Public transport in Uganda is wild adventure

Early this month I took an adventure. I decided to travel by public transport from Kampala to our ancestral home and to my Alinga Farms. My guide was my Alinga Farms Personal Assistant, Catherine Itipet, who often travels by public transport to the farm.

Originally, Catherine had planned that we would travel by taxi (mini-bus) direct from Kampala to Pallisa, but the taxi which she knows and had planned with delayed to take off from Pallisa. If we were to wait for it we would be late for our appointments with our Alinga Farms out-growers.

Catherine opted for Plan B – travel by bus from Kampala to Tirinyi, then by taxi from Tirinyi to Pallisa Town and then by boda boda (motor bike) from Pallisa Town to our final destination. This is how I ended up aboard a Kakise Bus, travelling from Kampala to Soroti.

Catherine’s choice of Kakise was a great one. I was pleasantly surprised. The bus interior was clean and well organised (two seats to the left and tree seats to the right) – similar to the arrangement of seats on air planes. There was none of that rusted metal that you fear will give you tetanus.

The bus had metal racks above our seats for hand baggage. The rest of the baggage was placed in the boot located in the underbelly of the bus – very modern indeed.  Except for us humans, I did not see any other live animals (two legged, four legged, and otherwise) on the bus.

Another surprise, the bus took off on time, at exactly 10:00 a.m. as promised! I continued to be pleasantly surprised, the driver was not over-speeding, the pace was relaxed enabling me to de-stress and to appreciate Uganda’s gift of nature – the pleasure I do not often get when I am driving myself. 

We made a stop at Namawojolo for passengers to buy snacks and drinks. Many of my fellow passengers bought roast chicken, meats of all kinds, gonja (plantain), bottled water, sodas, etc. Another surprise was awaiting me – one of the staff of Kakise moved around the bus, distributing paper napkins for free to all passengers that wanted and needed them to use while snacking and afterwards.

Along the Iganga to Tiriniyi highway, we stopped for a health break. We needed to stretch our legs, decongest our bladders and generally make ourselves comfortable for the rest of the journey. The spot is a favourite for buses to make a health stop. Not so pleasant a surprise awaited me then. We had to do it all in the bushes.

My fellow passengers who had to respond to the call of nature, had no choice but to add on to what others had left behind in the buses in the past, and the evidence was all there in different shapes, sizes and age. One of my fellow, travellers, surely less than 10 years of age, was not able to make it to the bushes on time, so she soiled her skirt. No public toilets anywhere in sight, and apparently there is none along the entire route.

  • Need to ask, do we have a public health policy in Uganda?
  • If so, what is it about?
  • Am I the first to notice that this status quo of no public toilets for travellers and other public places is really not wise – need I explain?

Travellers on public transport on the eastern route are indeed suffering. But, I need to finish on a positive note, though. When our fellow passengers finished releasing their waste, the staff of Kakise, provided them with a jerry can of water and soap to wash their hands and to clean up, before they got back on to the bus. Kudos to Kakise.

8 responses to “Public transport in Uganda is wild adventure”

  1. One other thing, this bus is modern enough. It should have a toilet on it. Very simple. That is how buses are in other countries. But this Uganda, one day I ventured near the Mbale Taxi Park toilettes…I was traumatized for life. What we need are Rest Areas along every highway with benches, toilets, canteens. Just imagine the money one could make doing this privately. However, in most of the world, these are provided by the government. Light bulb went off… I had discussed the idea of toilettes with someone last year and we had calculated the costs for this and profit…it is now making a lot of sense. Thanks for writing this up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you sure you calculations were up-to-date with our Government’s cut-and-paste tax policies? Just asking. Seriously you comment is much appreciated and spot on. Thamk you Martha Leah


  2. on positive note, traveling by bus to west Nile region,, western and Northern makes one enjoy the trip because contrary to the Eastern route, Business men and women have set up private areas of convenience for public use. waiting for Government to set up such places of convenience may not come soon, this is a business opportunity which needs to be seized. Pick a leaf from Migyera service park in Nakasongola, Pakwach, Total Masaka(Nyendo) and Total Mbarara on High street.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amuriat, thank you for taking the step of posting a reply. Yes, by no means am I opposed to the private sector ceasing this as a business opportunity. They should do so in addition to the basic facilities that government is obliged to provide. I have travelled the West Nile route as I go to do work in Lango and Acholi. Sincerely, what is the distance between Nakasongola and Pader? Am I supposed to hold it in for five hours … Yes, business people do something, but most of all government, utilise our taxes to provide the basic public services.


Let’s Chat…

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: