Travelers in Kitgum district have accused bus and taxi operators of charging them exorbitantly and violating the COVID-19 standard operating procedures.
The transport fares doubled after the Ministry of health directed transporters to carry half of their licensed capacity to ensure social distancing to minimize COVID-19 transmission.
In Kitgum, some taxis and buses were seen filled. Each passenger was required to pay the doubled fares that were introduced to cover the vacant seats.
According to David Opiyo of the Kitgum Taxi Operators and Driver Association (KTODA), travelling from Kitgum to Kampala increased to 60,000 shillings up from 35,000 shillings while Kitgum to Gulu that was initially cost 10,000 shillings was hiked to 20,000 shillings.
Opiyo says that other routes that include Kitgum to Palabek in Lamwo was hiked from 7,000 shillings to 15,000 shillings while Kitgum to Pader and Agago which was initially 12,000 shillings and 20,000 shillings respectively rose to 30,000 and 40,000 shillings and from Kitgum to Lira rose from 20,000 shillings to 40,000 shillings.
Nancy Atim, a businesswoman vending second-hand clothes says it is useless to hike the transport costs amidst flouting the social distancing since it also puts the lives of travellers at risk of contracting the coronavirus disease.
Richard Ocira a frequent traveller wants the government to intervene in rescuing innocent travellers from being exploited.
David Opio, the Kitgum Taxi Operators and Driver Association chairperson contends that despite enforcing strict compliance that operators adhere to, and all restrictions set by the government, the vice is being exhibited along the way and in Kampala where excess passengers are loaded onto buses amidst maintaining the hiked fares.
The Homeland Bus manager Miltonic Kilama however refutes the claim saying they are under instructions to carry only 39 passengers. On charging travellers exorbitantly, Kilama says the price has been maintained as reviewed when public transport was allowed to resume operations.
Roblyn Bus Kitgum station manager Stanley Kilama Acellam also faults passengers who always insist on travelling despite buses already filled up.
Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech faults highway police officers for not enforcing the directives