Christmas travellers hit hard as bus fares rise

Transport fares have shot up on all routes going upcountry and people travelling from the capital Kampala for Christmas are paying prohibitive charges to go home.

A spot-check conducted in Kampala yesterday showed that bus companies have increased transport by Shs1,000, Shs5,000 and Shs50,000 depending on the route and bus company.

Bus operators said the fares are likely to increase further in the following days because of the surge in passenger numbers which have outstripped bus services. Some taxi operators have also increased their fares.

However, some bus companies such as Y.Y Coaches which plies the eastern route and Felister Bus which plies the northern route have not increased their fares.

During the Christmas season, people, especially those working in the city tend to leave for their home villages in the countryside to bond with their relatives and friends.

In Arua Park yesterday, the fares from Kampala to Juba stood at Shs100, 000, up from Shs50 000 for those travelling by ECO Bus and Friendship Bus, while the transport fares to Arua were at Shs50,000, up from Shs35,000 previously.

Uzuri Bus which plies the Kampala-Juba route was charging the same fare. But Baby Coaches charged Shs 45,000 from Kampala to Arua, an increase from Shs 35,000.

Mr Wazen Kamara, the booking officer at the ECO Bus stage, said they usually increase transport fares during the Christmas period because of the overwhelming demand.

“Passengers are usually many during the festive season hence competition. Besides, the fuel prices compel us to also increase transport fares. However, the fares will go down after the festive season,” he said.

The Executive Bus, which usually charges Shs 25,000 from Kampala to Gulu had raised its fares to Shs40,000 and the fare for Kampala-Elegu had hit a high of Shs60,000, up from Shs30,000 previously.

Gaaga Bus was charging Shs55, 000 from Kampala to Koboko, up from Shs45,000 and Shs45,000 from Kampala to Pakwach compared to Shs35,000 previously.

However, Mr John Bosco Tugeineyo, the booking clerk for Y.Y Coaches, said that their company, since its establishment 10 years ago, has never increased fares during the festive season.

“It’s one way of giving back to our customers for the continuous support which they give us and we also use this as a marketing strategy,” he said.

According to the Y.Y. Coaches transport fares, passengers travelling to Mbale were charged Shs 20,000 while those travelling to Soroti and Lira paid Shs25, 000 and Shs35, 000 respectively.

Passengers travelling from Kampala to Gulu by HMK Bus parted with Shs 30,000 up from the normal Shs25,000 and Shs35,000 from Kampala to Kitgum, up from Shs30,000.

However, Mr Jimmy Adeku, the manager of Otada Bus, which also plies the northern routes to Gulu, Oyam, Lira, Kamdini and Oyam among others, said they had fixed the transport fares to all these destinations at Shs25,000, up from Shs20,000.

“We have a fixed price for all our routes whether one is stopping at Migyera or Gulu. We just made an increment of only Shs 5,000 during this festive season,” he said.

At Kisenyi Bus terminal yesterday, passengers who traveled by Perfect Bus parted with Shs40, 000 to Rukungiri, up from Shs30,000 previously and Shs30,000 for Kampala to Mbarara, up from Shs20,000.

Savanah Bus was also charging Shs 40,000 up from Shs 30,000 from Kampala to Rukungiri and Shs50,000 from Kampala to Kanungu, up from Shs40,000.

Passengers complain

Passengers travelling from Kampala to Kasese by Link Bus parted with Shs50,000 up from Shs35,000 while travelling to Bundibugo one would pay Shs40,000 up from Shs30,000. Those travelling to Fort-Portal paid Shs 35,000 up from Shs 25,000 previously.

Mr Charles Owakubariho, the manager of Perfect Bus, said many passengers have been complaining of the increased fares.

“There is less money in circulation and this is affecting many people. We increased the fares but it’s even hard to get passengers,” he said.

“I had planned for at least Shs 35,000 from Kampala to Rukungiri but now the fare is Shs 40,000. I will have to pay an extra Shs 5,000 which would have helped me buy other things,” one passenger lamented.

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