It is clear that the President having to sort matters which are Constitutionally delegated to some Government Executive is one reason why the country will keep in a mess. A contract like that of UTODA is no big deal to Kampala City Authorities. President Museveni should get out of these matters so that the City Authorities stipulate their terms for the management of the Park Tenders which should be competitively competed for. The one who can offer the best management should take it up. It is sad to see Uganda going through another 5 years' mess simply because the untouchable UTODA has to be in-charge. There are functions that UTODA has taken on which are not theirs at all. They are at liberty to suspend any driver as they may wish, the charging of un-accounted for monies, name it. They see Kampala taxi Parks as their property which is wrong. It is not clear whether this taxi business beefs up NRM funding the reason why UTODA bosses brag that it is only the President that can get them out of business.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
UTODA TENDER IS ILLEGAL – Mayor Lukwago!
By Stuart Yiga.
His Lordship the mayor of Kampala, Erias Lukwago told journalists at City hall on Monday that the UTODA tender which the Kampala Capital Authority Executive Director Jenifer Musisi claims will end in 2014, is very illegal due to the fact that the Procurement procedures were never followed as required by the law.
“I had never seen any advert informing interested transport companies to bid to run and manage passengers, something that raises lots of doubt, ‘’Am told UTODA won the tender for another term”, Furious mayor Lukwago lamented.
Lukwago further says that on Wednesday this week all Division Councilors’ and mayors shall have a crisis meeting mainly to discuss a number of contagious issues UTODA inclusive.
He has also vowed not to allow any negotiations between government and the oppressed parties (taxi drivers and traders) fate without his involvement.
About the allegations that Lukwago has influenced the taxi drivers’ and conductors’ to demonstrate, the Mayor denies it.
ONLY MUSEVENI CAN UPROOT US
Daggers have clearly been sharpened, and battle lines drawn. What is remaining now is a full blown war between Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA).
After Lukwago puffed and huffed, swearing to terminate UTODA's money-minting taxi park tenders, the managers of the taxi body have dared the Lord Mayor to walk the threat, if he is really man enough.
"We are ready to fight and die in the parks," UTODA's supremo Hajj Moses Katongole declared amidst thunderous cheers, as he addressed taxi drivers and guides on Monday this week.
Katongole had called an impromptu meeting at Nsambya's Youth Sharing Hall, to counter Lukwago's threats. The meeting came hot on the heals of another meeting for taxi drivers held last week in which the drivers expressed anger over exploitative charges levied by UTODA.
Flanked by his deputy Chris Ssengooba, Katongole said they did not need the clearance of Lukwago to manage the parks, reminding him that the highest authority in the land-- the President-- has always blessed their presence in the park.
Katongole's foregoing statement brings out what is largely known -- which is that State House is the God father of UTODA, the reason the taxi body has managed to hold onto the tender for as long as Museveni has been in power , the public protests not withstanding.
Katongole reminded Lukwago that they had survived many mayors at City Hall before, and that UTODA will "surely outlive him," as well.
Other UTODA officials said they were ready to work with Lukwago if he gives up his belligerent attitude towards them.
Show of influence
In a bid to alienate him from his members and by extension weaken his hold on the taxi park business--, Lukwago called a meeting of taxi drivers, owners and guides at City Hall, "to tell him the problems they encounter in their day to day work."
Katongole reacted angrily to Lukwago's move, reminding him he had to go through UTODA to summon their members. Lukwago had snubbed UTODA by not including them on his invitees list.
By calling a meeting of taxi drivers and guides-- a few days after Lukwago's meeting-- Katongole wanted to show the world that he still calls shots at the taxi parks.
He also wanted to let the drivers and guides know that they hobnobbed with Lukwago at their own risk since UTODA was not going anywhere soon.
In fact, Katongole did good mobilization work of his members going by the big turn up at Nsambya sharing hall. He threw a sumptuous lunch for drivers and guides who attended- what turned out to be a PR meeting. They washed the heavy lunch with soft drinks, in which they literally swam.
True to the adage: When you want to melt an African's heart give him food, at the end of the day, all drivers and guides were singing Katongole's name vowing to deal with whoever messed with him.
MUSEVENI DIRECTS POLICE TO ARREST UTODA
Museveni shaking hands with one of the taxi drivers before their meeting on Tuesday night at State House, Entebbe. Photo by PPU
By Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa
Posted Wednesday, July 13 2011 at 11:49
President Museveni has directed the Police to arrest agents of the commuter taxi governing body, Utoda who have continued to harass and levy the suspended un receipted dues from drivers and conductors.
Meeting leaders of the taxi drivers under their umbrella association, Conductors and Conductors Central Association (DACCA) on Tuesday night at State House, Entebbe, the president reportedly said government will not tolerate impunity exhibited by Utoda.
“The president told us that the government position on the un-receipted fees still stands and directed Police to arrest all Utoda agents continuing to levy the suspended fees,” said Mr William Kasawuli, the spokesperson of DACCA told Daily Monitor .
Today morning, Police swung into and implemented the presidential directive by arresting scores of Utoda wardens and Guides who stormed taxi stages in the New Taxi Park to collect the fees.
The president assured the drivers that government will help them form a Savings and Credit Cooperative Society where they will safely keep their money.
“In fact he (president) questioned Utoda’s motive of taking our money in its coffers yet it is intended to benefit us.” he added.
The meeting was also attended by the city Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi who also assured the drivers that KCCA will do all it takes to resolve their grievances with Utoda.
The drivers went on a sit-down strike on Monday protesting what they described as unfair treatment and levying of illegal fees by Utoda agents .They also accuse Utoda of impounding and clamping their taxis that fail to pay the welfare fees.
This prompted government to intervene and directed Utoda to suspend all un receipted fees for three weeks to allow investigations into the collection and utilisation of the funds but Utoda agents defied the directive and continued levying the fees . The welfare fees amount to sh5, 000 per day, but the amount varies depending on the stage.
However, all the receipted fess including the sh4, 500 paid by each taxi daily and sh20, 000 paid monthly for Kampala Capital City Authority stickers were retained.
Written by Edris Kiggundu
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 16:50
On the face of it, the standoff between Kampala City Council and UTODA is about uncollected revenue of Shs 1.99 billion. Yet underneath is a clash of egos and the parallel personal interests between the mayor and the town clerk—the most senior officials at the White Hall.
The dispute, those close to KCC say, partly stems from the failure by the Mayor, Nasser Sebaggala to reconcile his political role with the administrative functions of the Town Clerk, Ruth Kijjambu.
The infighting between Sebaggala and Kijjambu has been intense although most of it has successfully been kept out of public’s view, councilors privy to matter have told The Weekly Observer.
But with the latest impasse between the city council and UTODA, a politically well connected body that runs the two major taxi parks in Kampala, conflicting interests of the two have bubbled to the surface.
This has not only exposed the dysfunction that prevails at KCC, but has blown the veil off the mismanagement that is responsible for poor service delivery in Kampala.
Recently, soon after Kijjambu communicated KCC’s decision to terminate UTODA’s contract, Sebaggala was at hand to contradict her, arguing that the taxi organisation should be given more time to settle the arrears.
And the mayor repeated in an interview with The Weekly Observer that “UTODA was going no where,” but was quick to add that contradicting Kijjambu does not mean their working relationship between the two is poor.
“I am very satisfied with UTODA’s performance and we cannot stop them. When I became mayor, KCC was demanding Shs 3.6 billion from them but now it is just Shs 1 billion,” he said.
He added that UTODA’s services are needed besides being a major source of revenue for KCC as well as employment for several people.
We have been told that the mayor enjoys an unusually close relationship with Hajj Musa Katongole, the man behind UTODA.
According to our sources, the two men regularly exchange gifts on important days and pay each other special visits quite often.
Conversely, Kijjambu’s stance on UTODA is not borne out of any known personal dislike towards the taxi association or its officials. But rather what we have been told is that she has subtly used this issue to convey her dismay over the way Sebaggala has conducted matters at KCC.
As the most senior technical person at KCC, Kijjambu has always longed for respect from the city’s political leaders–– respect that has not been forthcoming.
She is disappointed that Sebaggala and his councillors disregard her technical advice on a number of issues.
In one council meeting in November last year, she charged that UTODA’s debt was becoming unsustainable and the best thing to do was to terminate the contract, a source that attended the meeting told us.
To this, Sebaggala told her off to leave UTODA alone. “I know how to sort it out,” our source quoted the mayor telling Kijjambu.
Later, councillors passed a half-hearted resolution stating that; “Though the executive committee agreed that the operational history and all circumstances surrounding the current operations of UTODA prudently dictate termination of the contract, they were worried about insecurity in Kampala and traffic disruptions that may occur when the contract was terminated.”
It is a position that did not satisfy Kijjambu and luckily for her, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) shortly authored a report, questioning the operations of UTODA and recommending that the association’s contract be cancelled.
With the backing of the powerful PPDA, Kijjambu penned a letter giving UTODA only three months to wind up their activities.
UTODA and Sebaggala protested and court has since slapped an injunction on the matter.
Kijjambu’s appointment came after the interdiction of James Sseggane in August 2006 after it was discovered that he had failed to remit over Shs 3bn as PAYE for KCC’s workers to Uganda Revenue Authority between 1999 and 2004.
Some of Kijjambu’s critics believe the job is too big for her, having previously worked as Principal Assistant Town Clerk of Kawempe Division.
It is for this reason, our sources say, that political leaders in KCC sometimes prefer to deal with Kewaaza Muwonge, the Deputy town clerk on critical matters.
Besides, Kijjambu must work with a mayor that is determined to push through his political agenda even when it contravenes procedures or is not feasible.
As a technocrat, Kijjambu would rather stick to procedures as stipulated in the Local Government Act, but Sebaggala’s methods of work are different.
Kijjambu told The Weekly Observer that her role was advisory and that her intention is not always to clash with the politicians at KCC.
“For me I give them advice. They either take it or leave it, but I would have played my role,” she said.
Even if it were not for the clashing interests of Sebaggala and Kijjambu, UTODA has done its best to prove its critics right.
The parks the body manages are too disorganised and they have failed to rein in errant drivers. This has boosted calls for the taxis to be kicked out of the city centre.
Dr. Amin Kiggundu, an urban planning consultant, told The Weekly Observer that while UTODA had performed well in the past by filling the gap left by the defunct Uganda Transport Company, times have since changed.
“We need a high quality transport system like buses but KCC lacks the capacity to regulate such a system. They do not have people who understand issues to do with urban transport,” Kiggundu said.
KCC has largely failed to regulate UTODA and that is why it cannot put the body to task to explain where they put the huge amounts collected daily from taxi drivers while its debts with KCC increase.
KCC, according to our source, estimates that there are 12,000 taxis, although UTODA has told the city council that there are only 7,000 operating in the city.
Given that UTODA charges each taxi that comes into the city Shs 4,500 per day––for the 7,000 taxis––this would translate into Shs 31.5 million a day and Shs 945 million per month.
This would also mean that the body is in good position to pay KCC the agreed contractual fee of Shs 290 million per month and remain with a balance of about Shs 650 million. But this money has not been forthcoming, accumulating to a Shs 1.99 billion debt.
Meanwhile, UTODA keeps insisting they will clear the arrears.
“We have seen that before. We are not moved at all because we have a clear arrangement to settle the debt,” Katongole said in the aftermath of Kijjambu’s letter. His tone depicted a high level of confidence that can only be backed by some authority higher than Kijjambu.
And Katongole is sure of what he is talking about. Since UTODA was formed in late 1986, the year the NRM came to power, it has monopolised the management of taxi parks in the city and in major towns.
Part of the reason, analysts say, is because the body enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the powers that be–– in the sense that it contributes handsomely to the ruling party’s political endeavours in exchange for cover for its activities.
Sources at KCC have told us that the current UTODA contract was renewed in 2005, during Ssebaana Kizito’s reign and runs out in 2011.
The process of renewal was subject of the PPDA report which noted that proper procurement procedures had not been followed.
But Sebaggala says UTODA’s past performance was good enough to win them a renewal.
“As KCC we consider so many things. We do not automatically choose the highest bidder but we also look at the previous performance of the bidders,” he said.