Activities at the Bwaise taxi park came to a halt due to a clash between the outgoing leadership and the newly appointed leadership, who were set to be sworn in on Monday morning. In December of last year, over 300 taxi drivers and conductors from various stages of the park filed a complaint against Francis Nsobya Ssemakadde, the park’s chairperson, with the developer, Kampala Logistics Centre (Kalocen) Investment.
They accused Ssemakadde of violating park rules and incorporating non-taxi drivers (“fees”) into park operations. In response, Colonel Fred Bogere, a partner at Kalocen Investments, established an interim committee to oversee the park. However, when the interim committee of seven members was about to be sworn in on Monday, supporters of Ssemakadde disrupted the ceremony, protesting his removal.
This resulted in clashes between the two groups, necessitating extensive police and military deployments to restore order. Four people, including Ssemakadde, were arrested and transported to the Kawempe police station. Rajab Mukasa, the newly appointed park chairperson who succeeds Ssemakadde, emphasised the importance of unity and adherence to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) guidelines in order to ensure a unified park structure, while also addressing the issue of parallel stages.
Mukasa urged opposing leaders to work together to improve the taxi industry and promote driver solidarity.
Rashid Ssekindi, chairperson of the Uganda Taxi Operators Federation, stated that taxi drivers can elect their leaders under KCCA and UTOF guidelines. However, in the current situation at Bwaise, the developer has imposed their preferred leadership. He emphasised that if the drivers accept the appointed leadership, the taxi association will recognise it. Ssekindi urged drivers to remain calm in order to avoid recurring conflicts, which could result in the park being closed by the developer.
Gerald Twishime, Regional Police Commander for Kampala Metropolitan North, revealed that since the park’s inception, there have been 12 reported assault cases involving severe beatings of drivers. He assured me that the police would prosecute all offenders in court. Twishime emphasised their commitment to ensuring security, prosecuting those involved in violent incidents, and limiting the influence of non-taxi drivers on park affairs.