By Candia Stephen
Arua- The two taxi parks in Arua that have been created following the demolition of the old taxi park for redevelopment on Thursday became scenes of protest, disrupting transport.
Hundreds of taxi owners, drivers and brokers kept charging at police that intervened to suppress a protest against a move by Arua Municipality to collect daily dues per trip on every taxi.
The anti riot police led by Arua the district commander Jude Nasucha cordoned off the taxi park but were restrained by the angry taxi operators, who warned of dire consequences if the police dared to seal off the taxi park, citing conflict and insecurity.
“We are poor people who have to survive through this work and if the police want to stop us, they must kill us,” Ali Musa a taxi broker warned.
There has been no revenue collection in the past two weeks. Another food vendor at the River Oli division taxi park, Mama Rashid, said she has spent all her life selling food at the taxi park and wondered why Arua Municipal Council has refused to operationalise the new guidelines.
Its two weeks now since dues from the taxi park were last collected after Arua United Transporters Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Ltd filed a case before the PPDA Tribunal against Arua Municipal Council for violating the PPDA rules and procedures.
Ijosiga Ratib, the spokesperson for Arua United Transporters Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Ltd said according to the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of local government, no vehicle is to pay parking fee, the Municipal authority is to issue monthly parking stickers and pay 25 percent of the collections to the cooperative society.
He further warns that the united transporters association is not ready to allow Arua Municipality to physically collect any money unless they comply with the PPDA guidelines of providing monthly stickers of Shs 80,000 per vehicle and pay the one collecting 25 percent.
Speaking to reporters at the Oli taxi park, the DPC Arua Jude Nasucha said police has deployed to ensure that there is no chaos and lawlessness by the taxi operators.
Nasucha speaking to reporters. Photos by Candia Stephen
However in an earlier meeting with the Municipal Authorities, Arua Municipal council rejected the directive on grounds that they had already passed the budget and could not uphold it as it would result in to drastic revenue fall.
As a result of the continued standoff between Arua Municipal Council and United Transporters Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Ltd, no local revenue has been collected, putting the Council at financial crisis to manage routine activities.
The LC3 Chairperson for Arua Hill Division, Nesma Ocokoru and the technical committee then decided to close the division offices as it could not operate without revenues. Local governments usually rely on revenue collections especially from the markets, taxi parks and street parking.
Dr Paul Onzubo, the Municipal health officer Arua warns that service delivery especially water and sanitation to the people in the municipality will come to a standstill if the ‘bad political will’ is not reversed soon.
But the Mayor Arua Municipal Council Isa Kato urges the aggrieved parties to seek legal help but cautions against use of unlawful means to achieve targets.
From the time market vendors were relocated to pave way for the redevelopment of the Main market and the taxi park by World bank and the African Development Bank respectively, there has been disorder in management and collection of local revenue.