Players in the public transport business are torn on President Museveni’s advice to stop using public means of transport such as buses and taxis in an effort to contain the spread of COVID 19 pandemic caused by Coronavirus.
Yesterday, we spoke with various taxi drivers in the old taxi park to get their reaction.
Some welcomed Museveni’s advice saying it’s lifesaving while others criticised it saying public transport is their only source of survival.
William Charles Katumba, the chairman Katosi – Nkokonjeru stage in old taxi park said it’s a good idea but that the President should think about the families of taxi drivers and conductors who earn a living from the taxi business.
“We don’t disrespect his directive but if it happens and he bans public transport, he will have killed us like the virus (Coronavirus) is killing people because this is where we earn a living,” he said.
“If I park this taxi and don’t work, my family will have nothing to eat.”
Asked whether they as taxi drivers have any measures in place to stop the spread of COVID 19, he said, “overloading is prohibited. We are also vigilant about whoever enters the taxi. If a passenger has any symptoms of the infection such as running nose and coughing, we put them aside and alert the authorities in this regard.”
Mustafa Matovu Lwakooma, also a taxi driver at the same stage in old taxi park said if it happens and President Museveni bans public transport, it will not only affect drivers and conductors but passengers as well.
“We are not only the beneficiaries in taxi business but also passengers. Even the passengers who board taxis are always on their way to their work places to look for survival.”
Because of the pandemic, he said people in taxi operating businesses have already experienced the challenges because of slowdown in the number of passengers who fear overcrowding and close contact of people in taxis.
On the other hand, Dirisa Senyange, another taxi driver in old taxi park applauded the President for advising people not use public transport saying that life is bigger than wealth.
“I think he was also advised by health experts that if we consistently use public transport to go for work, we will fall sick. Only a healthy person can work. If we fight for profit making and not our lives, we are gone. It’s only a healthy person who makes money,” he said.
“I don’t condemn him for his advice. I warmly welcome it. And even a parent who is irritated that President sent children back home should think twice. The child is yours. It is not for the school. A school cannot protect a child better than a parent. What President did to send children back home is excellent. We cannot condemn him even if our children get sick,” said Senyange.
He however called on him (Museveni) to direct Banks to also extend period of repaying loans.
“Like he stopped studying for one month, he should direct the Banks to allow those who acquired loans not repay this month. The period of paying should be extended for one month just like studying was extended for one month.”