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Christmas: Urban-rural migration starts at slow pace

by Editorial Team
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By Colleb Mugume

As the year draws to a close, Ugandans typically descend on public transport terminals in their thousands, anxious to leave Kampala behind and head upcountry to celebrate the festive season with family. 

This year, according to public transport operators, because of the tight economic situation, fewer people than usual are travelling. This means, while transport fares are rising, it is not at the rate of years past. Colleb Mugume went around the city with his camera and captured the transport scene, five days before Christmas.

By Monday, December 19, a quick survey of taxi and bus terminals in Kampala indicated an increase of at least sh10,000 on almost every route.

For instance, Global Coaches, which ply the Kampala-Mbarara route, have increased their charges from sh30,000 to sh40,000.

Bashil Kiggundu, a bus conductor with Global, said: “We have increased the fare by sh10,000 because the buses return from Mbarara empty as few or no people are travelling from Mbarara to Kampala in this period.”

Gordon Mugisha, the manager of Freedom Coaches which ply the Kampala-Ibanda route, said their fares had increased by “only sh10,000” because there are fewer people than usual travelling. 

“We used to have long queues by this time as Christmas approached, but this time around, many of our buses are parked because there are few travellers due to economic constraints. COVID-19 affected our economy terribly,” Mugisha said.

At Namayiba Taxi and Bus Terminal, fares have increased as follows: Kampala-Elegu, from sh40,000 to sh50,000; Kampala-Busia from sh35000 to sh50,000; Kampala-Gulu from sh35,000 to sh40,000 and Kampala-Juba from sh80,000 to sh120,000.

At St Apollo Kaggwa Road Bus Terminal, transport fees have also increased. For example, the journey from Kampala to Arua will now set a traveller back sh60,000 from sh50,000.

While some bus companies had not, by Monday, increased their fares, representatives said that could change in the coming days.

Chrispus Muhumuza, a booking clerk at Link bus company, said: “Our transport fees are still the same because even if we increase, people cannot afford them. The economy is not doing well; people don’t have money.”

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