By Steven Enatu
There is a very low turn out of travelers using public transport in Soroti city as many buses and taxis are seen in their respective stages for long without a passenger inside.
A step to Katakwi stage our reporter caught up with Robert Okiror a taxi driver from Soroti to Katakwi at exactly 12midday. Okiror who had reached Soroti city by 9am had only got one passenger in his taxi that he expects to get 7 passengers to make a half capacity as directed.
President Museveni last week eased lockdown restrictions that were imposed for 42 days lifting inter-district travel ban on private cars and allowed taxis, buses and boda boda cyclists to operate at 50 per cent capacity with strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.
The President has also warned that any violation of SOPs will directly send public transport and other reopened sectors back into lockdown.
Okiror attributes the low turn up to fear of contracting the virus by passengers and also reasons for travel since people have no money and markets are also still closed.
“Government should expedite the process of vaccinating Ugandans and also provide masks for people, if all these are provided, the lock down will totally be lifted and people will travel without fear,” he said.
Martin Abeku, the branch manager YY coaches Soroti however says that though the number of passengers is generally low, fares have not changed from the previous reopening fares.
“Yeah, of course the low number of passengers have affected us for example, we had to scale down the number of staff to 50%. Adding that: Transport fare from Soroti to Lira is 20,000shs, to Kampala is 40,000shs, Mbale 20,000, Jinja 30,000 and Kampala to Lira is 50,000shs. In a day we now send three buses and we stop sending buses by 2pm because of curfew time in the other previous lockdown we could send 10 buses,” he said.
He however advised all passengers intending to travel to go prepared to observe the SOP’s.
Fares to major districts surrounding Soroti city are: Orungu is at 10,000shs, Katakwi 15,000shs, Amuria 12,000shs, Obalanga 20,000shs, Achowa 15,000shs and Kaberamaido taxis charge 15,000shs with half capacity with all the SOP’s in place.
Agnes, a passenger who was traveling to Katakwi told our reporter that she entered the taxi to Katakwi by 10 am but by press time it was midday, the taxi was still parked with only her as the passenger.
“I came here at 10am, have been here since then, I came here to shop but now going back is a challenge. Coming was a challenge now going back too is a challenge. We finish here almost five hours before we set off” she said.