Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has welcomed the introduction of the new ‘Tondeka’ buses, with a rider that attention has to be given to the involvement of local content.
In a meeting with the proprietors of the bus company, now a subject of heated divisions in Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Kadaga said she supports improvement of the public transport in principle.
“This is a very good idea because the congestion is so sickening,” said Kadaga.
Kadaga, however, said the company should not backtrack on the involvement of local content.
“I am a very big supporter of local content, and I am always hammering import substitution; for me I support this initiative,” she said.
Dr Peter Kimbowa, the Tondeka bus company’s board chairperson, said the company is locally registered whose ownership he said ropes in taxi drivers, owners and the Hindui Group which will provide the buses.
“We are business people; we don’t believe in conspiracies; we have engaged all taxi associations and all of them are shareholders of this company,” he said.
Kimbowa said it is in their interest to engage locally operating drivers and their associations and said the next phase of the buses will be procured from Kiira Motors to support local content.
Bus owners interested in becoming part of the enterprise, said Kimbowa, will be welcomed.
“We have opened doors to anybody with buses who wants to run under our service system,” he said.
Earlier, the Speaker had developed cold feet in supporting the project after reports of sidelining of locals had emerged, but her doubts were cleared by the presence of a myriad of taxi operators and owners associations who attended the meeting.
Mr Mustafah Mayambala represented the Uganda Transport Development Agency, while Gad Mugisha represented COTODA, a taxi owners’ association.
The meeting comes at the backdrop of Speaker Kadaga’s instructions to have the Committee on Trade and Industry launch a probe into claims that a foreign bus company has been given the role to manage the city’s lucrative transport sector, edging out locals.
The initiative intends to run five bus terminals, five depots and several park and ride facilities along major routes to the city’s outskirts.
At a news conference earlier, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago opposed the arrangement.
“My other issue was failure by the company to buy the buses from Kiira Motors,” Kadaga said.
She added: “I have been assured that subsequent purchases will be made from there.”