Allow me run my letter of concern about the ongoing squabbles over the Tondeka Metro Buses project which is expected to roll out in Greater Kampala area.
I have been following Tondeka plans and I believe they are coming with something new and promising.
But even if they fail, I would like the market to fail them, not, underhand methods of their competitors.
I know some of the people who want to fail this project.
However, if we all keep silent, it will be a conspiration to fail our country. I care about our city, Kampala, and the struggles of our people who live and work in it. I am therefore compelled to share with you efforts to frustrate Tondeka.
A couple of weeks ago, a petition (kiro kitwala omunaku) sent to the inspectorate of government (IGG) sought the Ombudsman to investigate circumstances under which Tondeka got a deal to transport people using buses from an Indian firm Ashok Leyland.
Hiding behind a whistleblower, the complainant wants IGG to pull a rag under KCCA and the Ministry of Transport in a bid to stop Tondeka from importing 980 buses that would help decongest Kampala, and bring down transport costs for commuters.
If all goes well, one will need only Shs55,000 a month and Shs18,000 a week to travel.
Therefore, when Pioneer Buses management start games to fail this project, it is like failing over 2 million people who commute in this city and its surrounding cities such as Wakiso, Entebbe, Kira and Mukono.
The intention of the petitioner, rather, Pioneer Buses management is to derail Tondeka from rolling out.
This is because the arrival of Tondeka buses would hit the last nail in the untenable Pioneer Buses coffin.
In the alleged petition, the complainant is talking about government full support for this project and “exclusivity” of routes, something Pioneer Buses say, they didn’t get, and one of the reasons they regret in their totally failed business venture.
It is unfortunate, however, that Pioneer Buses bosses don’t see their failures or mismanagement contributed 99 per cent to their failures.
Needless to say, Pioneer Buses have no contract with KCCA to run buses, and their illegal venture will shut down the moment Tondeka Buses who have been welcomed by KCCA, Local Governments around Kampala, the Ministry Transport and tax drivers, arrive in September 2020.
Like I said, Pioneer Buses have no contract. And if they were interested in running transport in Kampala, they would have applied to offer these services after KCCA advertised for two or three times requesting for the provider. They themselves know they cannot qualify because KCCA knows their business practices.
Pioneer Buses should not blame anyone but themselves for their collapse. Everyone in this town knows Pioneer buses business model wasn’t sustainable, especially that they still collect money and keep it in the pockets and drawers of managers and owners.
This is so because from their fleet of 100, only 40 are operational, and they have no workshop to service or repair their fleet. This is not how a serious bus company manning city transport operates. And by the way, those buses do not even have parts to replace worn out ones, and that explains the many buses rotting away outside Namboole stadium.
The other challenge Pioneer bus need to address is the issue of clearing arrears of Uganda Revenue Authority which is almost sh3 billion. Plus, PSV for the fleet which has not been paid up to the Ministry of Transport, leave alone the absence of a comprehensive insurance which has put the company in serious court cases.
I didn’t even want to go there, but, Pioneer used to bank with Cairo bank, but after several cases of compensation and the company failing to pay, court attached the accounts which further sunk the already bedridden company.
I can authoritatively say, the petitioner to the IGG is a time waster, and they know very well the law allows the government agencies to outsource a service if no bidder comes out after two rounds of advertisements.
The grounds for this petition are pitiable and should actually not warrant a serious person to look at. No wonder, the people raising these flimsy issues are hiding behind a whistle blower, otherwise, they would be laughed off by any reasonable person in this town and beyond. I believe, if Pioneer bus owners want to compete in this industry, they should clean their backyard; pay up KCCA and Wakiso dues, clear their books with the ministry of transport, pay up URA arrears as well as their staff wages. They should build at least one workshop to help them repair their fleet, buy comprehensive insurance for all their buses. And lastly, operate like a serious business and not like boda boda owners who collect dues from riders from the stages.
We all want a competitive industry, and instead of blacking Tondeka even before it starts operating, those that operate should improve their services to be attractive to their clients. Then, they should let the market sort out Tondeka.
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