Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA has collected only collection an estimated Shillings five million in park user fees, more than a month since resuming the collections.
In 2020, the cabinet resolved to reinstate the charges that President, Yoweri Museveni suspended in 2017 following complaints by the taxi operators of exorbitant charges. The operators were paying 120,000 Shillings every month.
The Minister for Local Government, Raphael Magyezi then issued a statutory Instrument indicating that vehicles carrying between seven to twenty passengers, including taxis, would pay 720,000 Shillings annually. This would apply to vehicles operating within KCCA jurisdiction.
Vehicles with the same capacity but operating beyond KCCA jurisdiction would be required to pay 840,000 Shillings while those with sitting capacity from 21 passengers to over sixty would pay an annual fee of 2.4 million Shillings.
KCCA Director Revenue Collection, Sam Serunkuma says that they started collecting the fees on 1st January but have so far only collected about 5 million Shillings.
When the fees were reinstated, collections didn’t start immediately because the government wanted to first issue route charts to taxis. The Works Ministry issued temporary charts in 2020, which expired at end of 2020. There was a plan to issue permanent route charts in 2021 but this is yet to happen.
Before the fees could be implemented, taxi operators appealed to the government to allow them to make the payments in instalments, saying that they had suffered financial stress following a nationwide lockdown to Control the spread of COVID 19.
The government granted the request and allowed the operators to pay quarterly. This meant that taxi operators would pay 180,000 Shillings every three months. Since only five Million shillings has been paid, it implies that less than 30 taxis, out of more than 120,000 taxis have so far cleared the fees.
Serunkuma links the low collections to a lack of seriousness on the part of taxi operators in Kampala. He says they are in talks with KCCA management to compel defaulters to meet the fees annually once their vehicle is impounded once enforcement starts at the end of the first quarter.
Mustafa Mayambala, the chairman of Uganda Transport Development Agency (UTRADA), says that taxi operators are willing to make the payments but some are disappointed with the recent take over of part of the old taxi park where they work from.
Over the weekend, part of the newly renovated old taxi park was taken over by developers who acquired the lease on the same more than ten years ago during the de-facto Kampala City Council
“We had sensitized our colleagues about the fees but were surprised to see that part of the park has been taken over. So how do we tell people to pay when KCCA has failed to save the land where taxi operators work from? It is KCCA failing the process,” said Mayambala
In an earlier interview with the URN, the chairman of Uganda Taxi Operators Federation Uganda- UTOFU, an umbrella organization for taxi operators’ association Rashid Ssekindi said operators have the will to pay tax and that as leaders they shall encourage their members to meet their obligation.
KCCA expects to collect at least 8 Billion Shillings in park user fees from taxis and Shillings 2 billion from other commercial vehicles a year. For taxis that operate in Kampala, all the money shall be collected by KCCA but payments shall be made through Uganda Revenue Authority- URA.
For taxis that go beyond Kampala and the Metropolitan areas, KCCA shall get 60 of the money collected and the rest goes to the other Local Government from where the taxis set off. The funds shall fund part of the KCCA budget and those of other local governments where other taxis come from before entering the City.