NELSON KARUHANGA: The memoirs of Taxi business in Mbarara and beyond


How to know where Taxi are heading, when you are in Mbarara just by looking at the passengers. This intensive research took me two years working 24/7.

While in Mbarara you do not need to first ask the Conductor or the Driver where they are going, you can just look at the passengers and definitely tell the destination of the Taxi. Remember in Mbarara every type of car can do taxi, Ipsum, Pick Up, Noah, Starlet, Mini Bus and of Recent Tipas are also taking some people.

  1. You see a Taxi 90% of people inside are eating something ranging from boiled Irish Potatoes to Katogo of Potatoes mixed with Matoke and some millet, others are eating sugarcane while others are having Maize and Gonja. Worry not bro, the Car is going to Rukungiri or Kabale.
  2. You enter the taxi, no one can say an English Word and even the Driver they call him Dereeva, they look worried about how they will get home since its getting dark. Buhweju here you go.
  3. In the Taxi there are boys holding sticks (Enkoni) Someone in the background is whistling in the rhythm of his best church song and all of a sudden you hear some cracking jokes after the other. If the car is heading to Masaka road, worry not at Kaguta Road it will turn northwards, its destination is Rushere.
  4. In a 5 seater My Car which working as a Taxi, there are 9 people and two more people stop it to enter, then the other passengers begin to argue where he will put them. But the driver knows better, he puts them and they are now 11 people and he looks as if he is looking for more, Isingiro Bukaanga its where you are heading.
  5. Very old cars which were probably new in the 1990s are the ones working as Taxis, they are all full of dust starting from the Driver to the passengers. You start thinking that they are Sand miners at Lake Victoria who you saw recently on the TV then you remember that the latter are Chinese not Ugandans. My dear that car is heading to Mwizi and Bugamba.
  6. You enter in a car and then you see people whom you found there are still bargaining with the driver and the conductor about the Transport fee as they keep threatening to leave and he also refuses to stop. Then one of those pays the driver a 20,000 and the driver gives him balance.
    “That is not what they had agreed upon,” the passenger threatens the driver.
    “Haza mpa Balance yangye waba otakwenda ninza kukuroga (Give me my balance or else I bewitch you) Is it Ibanda you are heading or Kitagwenda.
  7. Then you enter the taxi, there are only elites and in fact, you start wondering why these money-looking people don’t have cars and still travel in taxis. But then you get to hear them talk about how the car is in the garage. Even the young men in the Taxis look gentle and pay their fair accordingly. You are heading to Bushenyi, my dear.
  8. You enter the taxi which is actually Costa, you find all the 45 people in the car including the driver and the Conductor know each other, they start a talk about a certain man in their village and all those in taxi contribute effectively to the Lugambo as it seems they all know him except one guy who doesn’t know him well, but after being reminded, he also remembers him and the talk continues. On the way, they stop for 15 minutes waiting for someone who is going to board but has not arrived on the highway yet. My brother, go outside and read the word on the car again, Its Nyamarebe Boys!
  9. You definitely enter the taxi and you find its full with passengers, the boot is full with cargo and open tied with ropes, then some other things are on the top of the taxi while the passengers inside are also holding some other luggage while others are putting the luggage on their heads and sitting in the taxi. Some are having hens, sheep and goats. Isingiro, Kabuyanda Kikagati you go! In fact, after those of Kabingo leave the Taxi, the ones who enter come with cows!
  10. You enter a Taxi and there is some talkative guy who pretends to the current affairs, he tells you about the latest developments in government, the secrets in FDC, why Mbabazi is lost, he then dominates the discussion citing some examples from foreign countries. People get tired of his conversations but all of a sudden he can’t stop the noise, Rwampara, Nyeihanga here you come.
  11. Then you look at girls dressed in leggings, mini-skirts, they go chatting how they have plots with men. they get out their Chinese smartphones and start talking some Engrish as they check on Twilla (read Twitter) And Wa’saap (Whatsapp) then other people in taxi especially married women keep looking at them with disgust, KIU Ishaka is where you are heading.

NB: If you are not satisfied with this research, make your own otherwise am in my room Kihanga 6 Kasaana come and beat me, wash your hands and have a mask before you come🚑🎷🎷🎼

About author: Katuhanga Nelson is an administrator and businessman based in Kitagaata, Sheema

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