Members of Parliament have questioned the ad hoc manner in which the Ministry of Works and Transport has treated the continuous strikes by drivers around the country.
The drivers’ strike started due to the release of the statutory instrument by the Ministry of Transport which raises a number of guidelines for drivers to follow.
The instrument suggests that all drivers be retrained by the Uganda Driving Standards Agency (UDSA) before they are granted a certificate and clearance to obtain a badge from the Ministry in order to operate a public service vehicle.
UDSA on the other hand has made it mandatory for the drivers to sit for a written examination at a fee of 250,000 shillings.
Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze raised the matter arguing that the majority of the drivers are uneducated members of society. Nambooze says the drivers are also forced to undergo medical examination specifically at Mayo Private Clinic where they are supposed to reveal all their medical information.
She notes that the instrument as it stands provides for a public agency yet it was not advertised that UDSA would be used to implement it. She questioned the need for people who have been certified and qualified by a government agency to be retested by a private agency.
The drivers also claim they are forced to pay what they called unrealistic amounts of money by traffic officers for the same offence in different areas. The bus drivers are also not allowed to carry luggage such as mattresses on their vehicles yet one passenger cannot hire a whole pickup or lorry to carry just one mattress.
Nambooze wondered why the ministry does not handle the matter at once and where possible review the guidelines.
However, the Minister of Works and Transport Eng. Abraham Byandala explained that they have been moving around the country to explain to the drivers in small groups to make them understand the guidelines.
Byandala noted that the carnage on Uganda’s roads is among the worst in the world because of the drivers’ recklessness thus the need to ensure sanity returns on the roads.
Byandala says he has signed three instruments including the one on reflectors to ensure proper usage by the drivers, the instrument for those operating public service vehicles and the express penalty scheme.
Mbale Municipality MP Jack Wamanga Wamai asked the Minister if he has looked at the syllabus of the driving schools which leaves a lot to be desired because most people get driving licences yet they have not been trained properly.
Kasiano Wadri, the Terego County MP also reminded the Minister about the announcement by taxi drivers from Busia who have vowed to pass the fines to the passengers by hiking transport fare. Byandala explained that the drivers were confused thinking the penalties cut across like a tax.
There have been several taxi drivers’ strikes in the districts of Fort Portal, Hoima, Masaka, Mukono, Busia, Jinja, Kampala and Entebbe.