By Deo Okoodi
Taxi owners operating in the south western region have petitioned president Museveni over the newly revised policy guidelines on the management and levy of park user fees for public service vehicles.
In the Petition dated 8th October, taxi operators want the revised policy guidelines compelling each taxi to pay annual consolidated park user fee of 840.000 shillings revisited in order to exclude up country taxi owners and the drivers respectively.
Taxi operators, who held an impromptu meeting at Rwizi Arch hotel in Mbarara, raised the concern after Local government state minister Jenipher Namuyangu issued out a press statement on 16th October 2018 regarding government decisions about the implementation modalities on the management and levying park user fees in local governments for public service vehicle (PSV) parking areas.
The ministers statement was a result of the Cabinet decision reached at on 15th October resolving that each taxi plying on one specific route annually between two urban authorities outside Kampala to pay one consolidated fee of 840.000 shillings and the money is to be shared between the original and destination local government at a ratio of 60 and 40 percent respectively.
Minister Namuyangu further said that Town service taxis exclusively plying within KCCA are required to pay 720.000 shillings only in the decision to take effect 2018-2019 financial year.
The new revised policy guidelines are intended to stop multiple taxation and daily levies on taxis the practice that has led to creation of un gazed stages of which a variety of welfare fees are collected, shared by various individuals, or groups without providing any accountability.
Operators of commercial public service vehicles have been subjected to multiple levies of park user fees by various local governments and private revenue collectors who apply savage methods to enforce payments sometimes leading to resentment to pay, occasional eruptions of violence and disruptions to public transport services.
Kanyikirize Aron the publicity secretary for south western taxi owners and drivers association says cabinet is not aware that taxi operators have interest in every urban council situated along the specific routes they ply due to lack of getting passengers moving direct from the point of origin up to final destination.
Aron who faulted government for only consulting Kampala taxi operators on the management of taxi affairs in the country said the decision should be revisited in order to reduce the user park fees to 2000 shillings daily per vehicle for every district because it can be affordable by each taxi driver instead of the annual consolidated fee of 840.000 shillings for a specific route.
Mbararas town clerk Edward Lwanga said that the tendency of relying on Kampala in managing the taxi industry will suffocate and create problems to other urban areas in the county.
He said Kampala being a central business area may not be affected by the new revised policy guidelines on the management and levy of park user fees like in other towns situated in the middle of long routes where taxi drivers will be forced to pay extra money to pick passengers who stop them after failing to access taxis originating from their home urban areas.
Lwanga warned that if up country drivers are not involved in the management of taxi affairs the government may end up having two operating systems for the collection of park user fees.
The town clerk further said that in most urban centres taxis and buses are the biggest contributor of local revenue and that denying them any percentage on the proposed consolidated annual fee will have a big effect on development activities and council operations.
He said that during the meeting with president Museveni, the advice of technical officials over the matter were dampened by taxi owners from Kampala who opted for the consolidated annual fee and forgot to consider the challenges they would encounter during the implementation process.
The president has on several occasions also met representatives of tax operators associations together with ministers and technical officials from line ministries to agree on unchallenged annual fees for commercial taxis across the country.
This time round, cabinet resolved that park user fees be collected by URA and remitted to the treasury holding account in bank of Uganda before it is transferred by office of the accountant general to respective local governments and KCCAs revenue collection bank accounts.
Source: www.mknewslink.com a greater western Uganda news website