July 11, 2013

150 Left Jobless as Gaso Bus Company Operations Grind to a Halt

Gaso Transport Services Bus Company Limited has run into financial trouble leaving more than 150 employees jobless.

Gaso Transport Services Bus Company Limited, which is owned by the Ali Kamul family, was Masaka’s pioneer bus company. It had regional offices in Kampala, Burundian capital Bujumbura, Kigali in Rwanda and Mwanza in Tanzania. The company owned a fleet of more than ten buses plying the Rwanda, Burundi, Mwanza, Kampala-Masaka, Masaka-Mutukula, Masaka-Bukoba routes and Kasensero. The buses were some of the most sought after in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  However, several buses are grounded owing to financial troubles in the company.

Only one of the more than 10 buses previously owned by the company, is operational. Dozens of employees whose lives depended on the buses are jobless. Twaha Ssendi, the Chairperson Gaso Bus Conductors association claims that over 150 employees of the company have no work. He says Gaso Company sacked several conductors and closed its regional offices after several buses broke down. Ssendi, who still sits around Masaka Bus Park, his former workplace, says their boss the late Hajji Ali Kamul told them he was closing their offices in Bujumbura, Kigali, Mbarara and other towns because the company could no longer sustain them.

He says the situation worsened in 2009 after one of their buses was set ablaze in Natete, a Kampala suburb during the pro- Kabaka riots after he was blocked from traveling to Kayunga.  Farid Kamul, the General Manager Gaso Transport Bus Company Limited is reluctant to discuss the financial troubles of his company. He however told Uganda Radio Network at his office on Wednesday that the company is struggling to recover from a financial crisis, but declined to divulge details. Kamul, who first requested URN to drop the story, later said they were forced to discontinue several workers and close several offices of the financial crisis. Bull Matovu, a former ticketing officer in Gaso Bus Company says that he is struggling to provide for his family. Matovu says he has relocated his five children from a private school to a UPE school in Kidda because he can no longer afford paying their fees.

The five of five says that he has been jobless since he was laid off in 2011. Not only former employees of Gaso Bus Company are facing it rough as a result of the financial troubles of the bus company. Saidat Naiga is a food vendor and Gaso Bus Stage in Masaka Bus Park. Naiga says that she educated her three children with money from selling food to passengers at the Gaso bus stage because business was booming.

Naiga however, says that following the collapse of the company she can hardly make 25,000 each day. She blames the troubles of the bus company on meddling in politics.  Naiga claims that until 2009, the bus company was still booming until the late Hajj Ali Kamul, the former managing director painted his buses Yellow and pinned Museveni’s photos, which made several people especially opposition supporters to boycott the buses. Erias Klaus, a resident of Masaka municipality says competitor bus companies have advantage of the collapse of Gaso Bus Company to hike fares.

Gaso owners are now counting on president Yoweri Museveni’s pledge to replace their bus that was burnt during the 2009 Kabaka riots.

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