Uganda Road Transport Improves

Thursday, 18th August, 2011

IMPROVED security in the north and the massive investment in roads across the country is driving increased use of road transport while domestic airline passenger traffic to upcountry destinations is declining.

A report from the Civil Aviation Authority indicates a decrease in domestic passenger travels and export volumes during the first half of this year.

They recorded a variance of -33.01% for the domestic passengers from 8,986 passengers and -31.86% for the export from 16,340 to 12,805 during the same period.

Samuel Wonekha, the CAA manager for upcountry airports said the decrease in domestic passengers was mainly due to the improved road network and increased licensed passenger buses which offer cheaper travel options. The security has especially boosted bus businesses that are now moving day and night.

Bus numbers increase
The secretary of the Transport Licensing Board (TLB), Winston Katushabe says there are about 1,000 buses country-wide. But some illegally operate while others are in and out of garages. For the north-eastern route where there was insecurity there are 35 buses, north via eastern 10, northern route Lira-Gulu 92 and West Nile 124. For regional (interstate buses) Nairobi has 119, Juba 66, Tanzania seven, Rwanda 53 and Burundi 8.

During a mid-year joint transport sector review workshop in Kampala Wonekha said although there has been a decline in regional air travel, CAA registered a 2.78% increase in international passengers from 500,511 tonnes during the first half of 2009/20010 to 555,600 tonnes during the 1st half of 2010/11.

Imports also went up by 9.44% from 10,136 tonnes to 11,648 tones.

Commercial aircraft movement went up from 10,809 to 12,348 while over flights numbers also increased by 13.15% from 4, 528 to 5,277 in the same period.

“CAA is challenged by lack of space for the modern cargo centre, warehousing and industries, ferry port, business park, hotels and aircraft maintenance among others,” Wonekha said.

Katushabe said they have registered a surge in the number of passenger buses but the increased number of accidents forced them to set up deterrent punishments for any bus that gets involved in accident. Punishments include, calling the entire fleet for inspection and revoking of the operation licences.

Even the bus drivers concede there is a general lack of quality drivers for the expanding industry that has new opportunities with the quickly integrating EAC market. Yunus Kiggundu, the chairman United Bus Drivers Association, says the bus industry is faced with lack of professional and qualified drivers.

He notes that the number of buses outweigh the number of qualified drivers. He said this might be one of the causes of the rampant bus accidents that are claiming lives of passengers.

By David Mugabe and Sam Balagadde: The New Vision Newspaper

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