If you’re a taxi commuter in Uganda, you have experienced these irritating habits after boarding a “matutu” as you run your errands.
Fluctuating taxi fares
I hate the fact that commuter taxis increase fares as they please. Fares do not drop even after fuel prices stabilise. Imagine you planned to spend Ugandan shilling 2000 on transport from home and back. Then you get the shock of your life when fares are doubled within a day.
Have ever entered a taxi and before you realise the leaning part isn’t there. Sometimes you find a seat is broken and you are actually in a rocking chair. Before you know it, you have flipped over. Sometimes you find the taxi seats are wet. Have you ever boarded a taxi with dirty seats but you remember to clean after you had already sat? The messy seat situation is worsened by over speeding and over loading.
Theft on board
People have lost their belongings while travelling in taxis. Recently a friend of mine lost a phone and wallet. She boarded a taxi and sat in the front. The taxi had only four people. She tried to open the door after reaching her final destination but it was not possible. She struggled for over ten minutes to open meanwhile the other person next to her might have been helping himself with her belongings. Sometimes you get fake money as change from some taxi conductors.
Drunkards and preachers on board
Have you ever traveled in a taxi and later on a drunkard enters. The drunkard subjects passengers to obscene words, boring discussions and choir practice sessions. All you are left with as passenger is praying to God he does not vomit. Probably you are seated in co-driver seat and you think the driver is sipping mineral water in sachet. A closer look at label and smell of booze shocks you to death. Imagine having preacher who decides to start accusing everyone in taxi of adultery and theft.
Hygiene concerns on board
Oooh no! Forget about the smelly armpits of the conductor who pushes a hand over your head to collect fares. Taxis owners with dirty seats belts may be forgiven but passengers who spit or dump rubbish in taxis. Some passengers can do general body cleaning including combing. Have you witnessed a conductor picking his nose and wiping out sweat with hands before handing over the change?
Romance in a taxi
Have you ever boarded an overloaded taxi which necessitates the conductor to sit on the engine part behind front seats? You are a female and this conductor pushes his legs between yours without fear or favor. Then you ask yourself why someone would not put together legs and seat in a horizontal position. Romance may also involve Public display of affection by passengers who feel they can not get a private room for their bad manners.
Animals on board
Have you ever entered a taxi and realised there is an animal farm on board. Smell from their faeces is not all. They can make this rather irritating sound. It is worse when animal owners are careless and do not tie their animals. The hens fly from the back seat to the driver.
Entertainment on board
Have you ever sat in this taxi with T.V? First and foremost the DVD keeps skipping and the sound output terrible. Sometimes the words come after the pictures. When you decide to watch no matter what, you notice the seats are not even and as such you cannot see clearly. I was once forced to party in a taxi courtesy of the driver’s passenger entertainment programme. I once entered this taxi that was blazing dancehall music with loud speakers. The interior of taxi was complete with disco lights. The driver cared little about requests to reduce the volume.
It’s hard to strict balance between the good and bad side of Public transport in Uganda. I once boarded a taxi during the fasting period, a Muslim conductor offered sweet bananas to all the passengers. On number of occasions taxis have transported school going kids sometimes for free when they find them walking.