Which is the most reliable means of public transport in Uganda.
How can you choose the most reliable means of all the public transport options in Uganda? This article will be more useful and relevant to you if you have read my article about “How to use public transport, on your first visit to Uganda.” or if you know how public transport works in this beautiful country. Public transport in Uganda includes Bodabodas (motorcycles), Special hires, Taxis or Matatus, Buses and boats or ferries on the few water routes.
Buses carry around 50-69 people capacity and take long journeys in the country out of the main towns. Normally you pay the money/ fare at the starting point or when you board on the way and a receipt is issued. When using buses, try as much as possible to avoid using buses that are run by “one-Bus Company” because if this bus breaks on the way, you will be stuck until the same bus is repaired. In most cases, the police will do nothing to quickly help you in that situation. If you’re on hurry, you will have to pay another fee to a different means of transport. It is also advisable to first enter in the bus to have a look before you pay your fare. Some busy can be unhygienic and smelly. Travelling for long journeys in such a condition, may not be the best experience.
Avoid going to Bus Parks un guided. The main bus park is called, Qualicel bus terminal, located downtown in Kampala, opposite the new taxi park between Allen, Namirembe, Nabugabo and Nakivubo roads. Bus parks are packed with un professional people, especially in the ones down town Kampala. Though this can also happen in other bus parks, it is rather common in Qualicell bus terminal. In Qualicell Park, you will find people who want to tear you up fighting to pull you to the wrong buses claiming that they will leave very soon. Caught in this confusion, you will only be shocked to sit in the wrong buses for the whole day waiting for it to start the journey. This park has some good reliable buses as well, but as a general advice, you need local guidance before you attempt to go to any bus park. Ask the local contacts for the most reliable bus company on the route you plan to take. You will find that every route has at least one to three reliable buses.
Another important point, know the location of your destination. Maybe have the name written down, to show to the conductor. Some names of places may sound the same especially with pronunciation challenges and you may end at a wrong destination. Have the active contact number of your hotel so that you can be able to talk to them or link the driver/ conductor of your bus to talk to them to get a clear direction. Have such important information on hard copy off your phone or other electronic gadgets as some times you may run out of battery or network connection along the way.
Taxis/ Matatu are easier and high in supply on the road but the right one needs to be chosen wisely. Each taxi uses a predetermined route. Use of taxis sounds easier because they are more available on each road. Even roads not used by buses have hundreds of taxis. However, the bigger the number, the higher the competition amongst themselves and hence the more confusion within their operation and management systems. Ten taxis will be loading in the same park to the same destination and you can’t know which one will go first, same as it happens in bus parks. Also, the prices may be influenced by your bargaining power unless the price is displayed on the sign at the stage. Despite the predetermined destination, you can’t be sure where the taxi will end.
You are encouraged to use these taxis only if you must or relay on your local contacts for local advice to make a choice. The taxis and some buses have no problem lying to you about their destination and the time they will be leaving or reaching. Some taxis will abruptly end midway and tell you to board another taxi to your destination. Others will overcharge you or some taxis will trick you and put you on board then drive you around town to look for more passengers while having people pretending to be travelers. The pretending passengers get out one by one as every genuine passenger comes in to replace the fake ones. This way it keeps full as they load but they don’t seem to start the journey.
Bodabodas. There is plenty of supply of boda-bodas both in villages and towns. Boda-bodas will cost higher than the matatu or bus and slightly lower than the special hires.
Yes, you will agree on the price or destination and you can be sure they will get you there to pay on arrival. Besides being the fastest option of public transport it’s also most risky. Just ensure that bodaboda risk can be covered by your insurance policy. When using bodboda, at least have a helmet or use the bodaboda that has an extra helmet for the passenger. Every day, many boda-bodas are involved in road accidents every day and there are so many resulting casualties in hospitals. Some bodabodas can work under influence of drugs and drive badly on the road. Look for the reliable providers, from stages rather than on the road moving. Take advice from the nearest local reliable sources. I normally ask my hotel to send me a number of the best boda-boda or send me one to pick me up. That way, they hotel can be accountable to some level.
Special hires; also called taxi in other countries, are the best pick of public transport. The special hire is the most reliable means of transport, close to private car. You can determine their direction, you agree on the price before departure, they are knowledgeable of the routes so they can dodge the traffic jam in towns or any other place you need to avoid during travels, they are fully updated of the current news of places and they take quality service as their priority. However, you may still be charged a muzungu price if you don’t bargain them down. Take these special hires from a destined stage to avoid taking anyone pretending to be a special hire on the move. You can’t manage to track this one on the move in case you needed to, during cases such as loss of property or any other reason, after your travel. Also, you can’t trust him well during the travel time since you don’t know their stage, as the key identity of special hires. If not picked from the stage, no one will be knowing this mobile provider. In most cases, every hotel/ accommodation or tourist destination is attached to certain special hires or boda-bodas, on their vendor’s list. You can ask them to identify for you one if you needed transport services.
Nice travel!!! Olugendo olulungi!!!