Ugandan taxi drivers in the capital Kampala on Monday kept their cars off the streets protesting high monthly license fees, paralyzing transport in most parts of the city.
Hundreds of passengers in various city suburbs were stranded along the roads as they waited in vain for taxis, whose drivers are protesting against 120,000 shillings (48 U.S dollars) monthly license fee levied by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Several people were forced to walk to their places of work, while others paid three times the normal fares.
The state owned New Vision reported that several commuter taxis were grounded after KCCA officials assisted by traffic Police launched a crackdown on all taxis that had not paid the monthly fees. It said the officials mounted check points at all major strategic entry points into the city and taxi drivers whose taxis had not paid up their fees were grounded.
After KCCA took over the city transport system last month from Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association, it proposed a monthly fee of 155,000 shillings (62 dollars) which was later reduced to 120, 000 shillings (48 dollars). However, drivers rejected the fee saying that it was too high and instead proposed to pay 70,000 shillings (28 dollars) which KCCA rejected. The drivers then decided to kick off their strike on Monday. “No taxi will be allowed to operate in the city if it has not paid the license fee, we have given them ample time to sort themselves out,” New Vision quoted Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson as saying.
Asuman Mugenyi, Uganda’s police spokesperson told Xinhua by telephone, that the police had heavily deployed in the capital and its suburbs as it monitors the strike. “We can’t take the strike lightly. The drivers’ strike may be used by some opportunists.
We are monitoring the situation,” he said. The drivers’ strike is the latest in a series of protests by the opposition, traders and teachers in Uganda. The protests are against the rising cost of living in the East African country.