Pioneer Easy Bus Company is yet to resume operations, despite signing a memorandum of understanding with Uganda Revenue Authority-URA in December last year. The delay to resume operations is largely a result of the delayed negotiations between Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA and Pioneer Easy Bus Company.
Upon the release of the buses on December 20th 2013, Pioneer bus officials said they were set to start negotiations with KCCA, including among others retaining exclusivity on routes in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono. However, KCCA officials say the talks between the two parties are yet to begin yet effective March 2014, URA will begin making collections to recover its Shs8bn from Pioneer.
Peter Kaujju, the Head of Public and Corporate Affairs at KCCA told RedPepper Online edition that they have not met with Pioneer Easy Bus officials since the buses were impounded by URA in February 2012 and that negotiations are only just going to start.
Kaujju did not reveal how much Pioneer Easy Bus owes KCCA, however previous estimates had placed it at Shs11bn. For both KCCA and URA to recover their money, Pioneer buses have to get back on the road. Reviewing the contract as directed by Parliament in December 2012 has not even begun.
The review of the contract is expected to iron out issues regarding dedicated bus lanes and exclusive routes. Kaujju points out that the review will be of the old contract signed in 2011 but not declaring it null and void.
Rebecca Athieno, a legal officer at Pioneer Easy Bus declined to comment on this particular issue. She instead noted that they are waiting for KCCA to communicate the date for negotiations. According to information this paper has obtained, Pioneer Easy Bus officials had proposed some changes in the contract and claim to have written to KCCA with these proposals. The proposals appear to have been gathering dust since the start of 2013; even Kaujju admits that since the buses were impounded, this subject has been largely ignored. There is no clear timeline on when negotiations are going to start.
The bus officials also say they have been trying to get KCCA on the negotiating table but as long as the buses remained impounded by URA, they had no bargaining power. Notably, they also continue to insist on having exclusivity on routes as agreed in the 2011 contract. However, this is going to be unlikely as Utoda buses “Awakula Enuume” are now plying one of those contentious routes – Kampla to Gayaza.