Thursday, 7 November 2013

Drivers clash over Mbarara park

Police guard the Mbarara Taxi Operators Cooperative Society offices yesterday.
 Police guard the Mbarara Taxi Operators Cooperative Society offices yesterday. Photo by Rajab Mukombozi 

Mbarara- Police fired bullets and teargas in Mbarara Taxi Park yesterday to disperse members of two rival taxi groups who were fighting over management of the area.
Mbarara United Taxi Owners Conductors and Drivers Cooperative Society Ltd (MUTOCDCS) and Mbarara Taxi Operators Cooperative Society (MTOCS) have been bickering over management of the park for more than a year.
Efforts to unite them to manage it jointly have not yielded fruits.
“We agreed that Mbarara Municipal Council continues to manage the park until tender issues are solved by the IGG, but we were surprised to see council employing our rivals to manage the park on their behalf,”Mr Robert Beyagira, the chairperson MUTOCDCS, said.
“We removed the gate of the park for vehicles to operate freely to show our dissatisfaction,” he added.
Mr Beyagira claimed that their rivals armed with iron bars, machetes and stones, closed their offices yesterday morning and began beating them, triggering retaliation before the police was called in. But MTUOCS also accused the council of failing to tame the rival group.
“After the IGG halted the tender award process last month, we agreed that Mbarara Municipal Council remains managing the park but our rivals have remained the commanders here at the park, ” Mr Sunday Bukenya, the chairperson of the group, said, adding that they decided to storm the park and push them out.
Mr Bukenya said they want the council to manage the park independently.
However, the town clerk, Mr Johnson Baryantuma, said they have employed independent workers.
“We are not employing any person from these rival groups. We are still working on the recommendation of the IGG that we manage the park ourselves until a final position on this matter is given. Clashes are just brought by their confusion,” Mr Baryantuma said.
Kakoba Division is supposed to manage the park on behalf of the council.
Ms Polly Namaye, the Rwizi region police spokesperson, said they will remain in the park to keep order.