The parliamentary committee on Physical Infrastructure is to investigate demands by taxi drivers which have caused a crisis in movement on roads by persons using passenger service vehicles.
The deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has directed the committee to expeditiously handle the matters surrounding taxi drivers’ protests.
Taxi operators’ protests in the various parts of the country have caught the attention of some MPs that who noted that movement on road has been paralysed by the striking drivers citing the strike along the Kampala- Mityana- Mubende road and that of the eastern Uganda route last week.
MPs Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality), Patrick Mulindwa (Kasambya) and Anthony Semuli (Buwekula) among others petitioned the Speaker over the ongoing strike by taxi drivers. The taxi and bus drivers are reportedly unhappy over the new road traffic penalties, the required regular trainings and medical check-ups.
The recently released traffic penalties require drivers against road traffic regulations to pay fines which were in some instances doubled or tripled from about shs100, 000 to shs 400, 000 through the Express Penalty Scheme as a measure to deter drivers from causing road accidents due to reckless driving.
According to Nambooze, the requirement by government that the drivers countrywide sit written examinations by the Uganda Driving Standards Agency (UDSA) at a fee of shs250, 000 is questionable and unfair since no consultation with the drivers has ever been done. She wondered why the exams were set by UDSA yet a different body is charged with the issuance of driving permits.
The legislators argue that the conditions put across are impossible for the drivers to fulfill.
Nambooze reminded parliament that many drivers have never gone to school and it was unfair to expect them to sit written examinations as a requirement for them to drive.
The MPs are also concerned that the drivers are required to go for medical checks in a private medical facility which they say puts drivers’ lives at risk and questions the motive of forcing them to a particular medical facility other than the government referral hospitals.
But, the minister of works Abraham Byandala insisted his ministry would not sit back and watch Ugandans getting killed in road accidents because of irresponsible drivers.
The state minister for transport Dr. Steven Chebrot last week, told parliament that despite the strike by the eastern Uganda public transporters, government was not ready to alter any fine and instead advised that the drivers adhere to traffic regulations.
Oulanyah said that whereas the penalties affect the drivers’ operations, statutory instruments will continue to be observed so as to prevent possible accidents in the process of handling those drivers’ concerns.
Oulanyah directed the committee to speed up the investigations and ensure recommendations are brought to Parliament as soon as possible to help create harmony amongst government, taxi operators and passengers.