Travelling to Kampala, the capital of Uganda at noon is a joy for the business and working class. You spend the day in Rwanda and the night in Uganda.
There are also several buses available on the route, which offers absolute convenience for travellers. It can be called a regional integration experience under the common market structure, where free movement of people is paramount.
At this time of the day, there is only either Amahoro, Otraco both from Burundi, or Gaso and Gaagaa, from Uganda.
They all charge Rwf7, 000 but there is room for negotiating during low seasons, thanks to the growing competition.
I have travelled in three of these and the experience is not different. They all offer the same joy and misery at the same time.
This kind of experience benefits the business and working class. For the business, one can travel to Uganda for shopping as soon as his stocks of goods depreciate. Well as for the working class, one can attend the morning meeting before jumping onto the bus at mid-day. This is more fun on Friday, where some board for Kampala’s night clubs.
Those out of these two classes are also free to take advantage of the buses. For example, when one is required to respond to an emergency across the border, he can easily join the travellers’ queue for tickets.
The despair starts as soon as one gets on board. How? Travellers especially businessmen from Burundi and those picked along the way to Kigali tend to think that they own exclusive rights to the seats.
They direct you to the back seats even when the next seat besides them is empty. All they claim is “there is someone there.” The logic behind is that these guys want to have enough room for themselves at the expense of others.
There are cases where the travellers are few, or the bus is half empty. This is the only time that the offended find the other seats that are not ‘restricted’.
Maybe this is not that annoying! Now here comes time for passing gas. I mean passing out unwanted gases. The guys eat almost everything edible as if it’s their last day on earth. You find one having a heap of donuts, chapatti, cakes, and eggs with milk, water or soda.
This combination by any chemistry would cause reactions in the stomach thus abdominal tremors. This is made worse with their refusal to open windows for fresh air. Imagine the heat at this peak hour of the day, with poisonous gases and body odours roaming within the bus.
Adding salt to injury, passengers on board have a common habit of mocking fellow passengers’ culture as a way of conducting conversations. It does not matter who initiates the chat, both men and women will engage in the debate.
It is not even surprising that such a group of people who have no respect for one another go an extra mile of teasing tourists who can be ambassadors for the region’s potential.
During my most recent visit to Kampala, I used a ‘white bus’. Though I was grieved for losing a guardian, whose funeral I was rushing to attend, the staff on board added more slurs to my emotions.
For starters, they could not even stop the bus for just a few minutes so that passengers could ease themselves. All they say is there is no time, which is greatly appreciated by the businessmen aboard but surely human beings’ bladders, do not necessarily function at the same pace!
As they vehemently refuse to stop, they give reasons that such stopovers expose them to robbery which leaves many wondering whether it would be the same case if a puncture happened or if at all we needed more fuel.
I am a regular traveller, and certainly I can comment that in most cases, my experience with the noon-bound buses has not been rosy.
There is a big difference between these and the morning buses and I am not referring to the time of departure but total respect for passengers.
Customer care is still lacking here and it is vital to improve this area if they are to serve more people in this wide East African Community.