KAMPALA - Bus companies operating along the Kampala-Kigali route are registering the biggest influx of passengers leaving Kampala for Kigali for the festive season.
The travelers, according to officials at different bus terminals in Kampala, are traders, students or ordinary people visiting their relatives in Kigali.
Emmanuel Gisa, the Manager of Jaguar, one of the longest serving bus companies on this route, this is the first time in the history of bus transport on the Kampala - Kigali route that his company is ferrying over 500 people to Kigali in just one day.
“We used to dispatch four buses but because of the high demand now, we are now having eight buses on this route and all of them leave when they are full,” Gisa said.
Over seven bus companies ply the Kampala - Kigali route with some of them proceeding from Kigali on to Bujumbura, Burundi or Goma and Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Some of the bus companies include; Jaguar, Onatracom, Gaaga, Horizon, Kampala Coach, and Akamba.
However, this influx has come with a hike in the bus fares from 25,000Ugandan Shillings to 40,000, which the bus officials attribute to the many losses they incur when making return journeys.
“Even if we increased to ten buses going to Kigali, they will get passengers but come back empty just as it the case for those that go to Kisoro. So, this is kind of compensation for the losses that we incur,” Gisa adds.
Fred Tumwine, the Manager of Horizon bus company argues that there are times when the buses don’t get any passengers on the route, and hence use the festive season to fill the gap.
But at the height of all this, Onatracom, a Rwanda government owned company is having the biggest inflow of passengers, which its Manager Elias Kayinamura attributes to not having increased “even a penny over the usual 20,000 Shillings we have been charging.”
“All our buses are now fully booked until the day after Christmas. 90 percent of our passengers are business people, though we also carry students and parents coming to visit their children who study in Uganda,” Kayinamura says.
He added that most passengers prefer travelling with the 9:00pm overnight bus which not only makes it convenient for traders to have their goods cleared early enough at border points, but also act as; “accommodation for a night that they would have paid for in a hotel in Kampala.”
Jackson Wacibra, the Manager of Gaaga Bus Company also said that his company has been overwhelmed by the huge number of passengers, either commuting to or from Kigali.
“We have not changed on our usual charge of 25,000 shillings because fuel prices are stable; we only increase when prices go up,” Wacibra said.