The woes of dodging traffic jam in Kampala town

The woes of dodging traffic jam in Kampala town
Jam is horrible in Kampla when its time to and from office
Jam is horrible in Kampla when its time to and from office

I removed my neck tie, pocketed it, folded my shirt sleeves, stood strategically in a fighting position and got ready for war, scramble for a seat in a tax to Ntida. It all started when I peeped through the office window and noticed the snail pace speed at which vehicles were moving in the traffic jam, I knew that moving back home at that particular moment would be a bad decision for the evening.

Every workmate I used to share an office with had already left and so I didn’t even have anybody to “lie to.” Unfortunately, it was a Monday and there was no way I was going to wait at my then favorite Club Rouge.

As if that was not enough, the computers in the bank were not connected to the internet (for security reasons) so there was nothing interesting to keep me busy. As the Bakiga say, “WASHOBERWA ORARESA” (If you are stuck and can`t move forward, you end up smoking), I also found myself playing solaitre (computer game). For over an hour I kept myself company and when it clocked 7.00pm, I again peeped through the window and found out that the traffic jam had now multiplied by two (2). What an evening!

Of course I was not going to sleep in the bank so I decided to storm the road. On arriving at the Ntinda stage in front of Bank of Uganda (Kampala road), I found that there was no taxi and that there was a big number of people waiting for the same.

I then decided to walk to the next stage located opposite Watoto Church but on getting there, I found that it was even worse. Waiting passengers were as many as OBUNEGYERE (wild mushrooms). Meanwhile, the clouds were also camouflaging and soon, it was going to shower. I knew that I was in danger. For lack of any other option, I decided to join the rest and wait for a taxi.

For over thirty (30) minutes we waited but all was in vain and every passing minute, the number of people increased. On realizing this, I knew that even if a taxi came, there would be a scramble for seats.

I therefore removed my tie, pocketed it, folded my shirt (long) sleeves, stood strategically in a fighting position and got ready for war!

Finally, one empty taxi parked before us and every one rushed to enter. Nonetheless, the conductor refused to open the door and insisted that before anybody could enter, they had to first listen to his terms and conditions. While speaking Luganda, He ordered, “ENO TAXI… NKUMI BIRI WOGYIKOYERA. SAGARA SAWULIDE SATEGEDE. BA SINCE WHEN TEMUYINGIRA. NAMWE ABAMANYI TEMUYINGIRA.” Literally meaning that he was going to charge Ugx 2,000= to every passenger regardless of where he or she was coming out from. That he didn’t want complaining passengers to enter.

Then the strong passengers were also not welcome since he didn’t want to fight. Nobody objected his orders and so the moment he opened the door, you should have seen how I pushed people to enter. The taxi was filled in a spell and off we disappeared.

It should be understood that taxis normally charged Ugx 1,000 (Uganda shillings one thousand) to and from the Ntinda suburb at the time (2009) and so by charging Ugx 2,000= he was cheating us by 100%. For lack of a choice, we all accepted to loose. It took us over an hour to travel to Ntinda town because of the traffic Jam.

… But before we could arrive at the major stage, a miracle happened. The first passenger paid the tough conductor a Ugx 5,000 (Uganda shillings five thousand) note and ordered the driver to stop the taxi for him to get out. Once it was stopped, the conductor paid him his change of Ugx 3,000 (Uganda shillings three thousand) but the passenger asked for more. The conductor said that that was the amount agreed before starting off but the passenger insisted that he couldn’t be cheated like that. The conductor just shook his head, jeered at the tall man and ordered the driver to restart the vehicle.

On starting it, the annoyed passenger pulled the conductor by the collar through the window and shouted at him, “SSEBO OJAZISASULA” (Sir, you will return my change). The conductor started screaming that the window was hurting his neck and asked the guy to release him and he pays.

The passenger also insisted that he could only release him after being paid. The conductor somehow passed his hand through the window and paid him his change. The guy then released him calling for applause from the rest of us cowards. The conductor`s pride melted immediately and at the end of it all, no passenger was cheated. Had it not been for the tough passenger that moved out before us, we would have all lost.

Believe me you, what the world lacks are not ideas, money or work force; it just lacks beginners/ leaders/ pioneers. Fortunately, everyone is created with qualities of being starters but we only fear challenges. If everyone knew what he or she was worth, stood up at the front line and embraced the tests, innovations and problem solving would never be hard making the world a better place.

Written by Atuheire Davis

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