Kampala – Operators in the public transport business have not yet experienced the usual festive season business boom, only two days to the Christmas day celebrations.
The Christmas celebrations come with various activities which include increased shopping and traveling, and many business operators expect this part of the year to make a kill. However, this time it is not the case for public transporters.
A mini-survey was conducted by URN, in the different bus and taxi parks to establish business performance this festive season, from three to two days to Christmas day, which is the peak of the season.
From the different upcountry routes, the fares had been increased by between 1,000 to 15,000 shillings, but they revealed low business performance compared to previous such seasons, especially before the Covid -19 pandemic broke out.
Umar Ddungu the chairperson of the western Uganda route bus transporters says that the passenger turn-up is still very low compared to what they expected especially at such a time when the economy is fully operational. He adds that the numbers they are experiencing now have not been seen before in such a period.
According to Ddungu, before the covid-19 pandemic broke out, a bus trip could make an average profit of about 1.5 million Shillings, but this time, given the low passenger turn-up, coupled with slightly higher fuel prices, it is very hard for them to make 700,000 shillings in a trip.
Tom Alinde, the spokesperson of Link Bus Services, says that in the past, every such season, they were always overwhelmed by passenger turn-up, irrespective of the increased fares. On all the routes Link Bus plies they increased by 15, 000 Shillings.
From the northern route, the situation is not different, Moses Oryema the manager of Opit Travelers’ limited, says that it is a very terrible time for them because in addition to low passenger turn-up, some passengers bargain for fare reductions. However, he admits that the numbers are higher than those of ordinary times.
Arthur Mwesigwa, a manager at Kakise Bus Company which plies the eastern Uganda route up to Mbale, says that business is very dull this season. He adds that the time it takes to fill up a vehicle, is still the same, yet this would normally reduce in such a season.
Even the taxi operators, mainly those plying upcountry routes, say that they are going through the same situation. And some of those with whom we interacted, expressed concern that the season has turned out into a loss for them;
Deo Sseziggo, the publicity secretary for the Jinja-Iganga stage, says that the number of passengers is still low, yet it is only a couple of days left to celebrate Christmas which brings a lot of questions on what to do next. He adds that because of this, they only increased by 1,000, and it has gotten into force today.
Moses Yawe, a stage guide at the Kampala-Masaka Coaster stage, says that during such times, they clear up to 30 return trips in a day, but the maximum he has recorded since the season started, has been 20, though it is higher than the 12 to 15 in ordinary times, it is still low for a festive season.