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 us use while snacking and afterwards.
Along the Iganga to Tiriniyi highway, we stopped for a health break – stretch our legs, decongest our bladders and generally make ourselves comfortable for the rest of the journey. Not so pleasant a surprise awaited me then. We had to do it all in the bushes – no public toilets anywhere in sight, and apparently there is none along the entire route. 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 past. 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.
The spot is a favourite for buses to make a health stop – and the evidence was there – shit of all kinds and shapes and in all kinds of conditions – dried up, heap-shaped, flattened, freshly dropped, etc. 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? If you need an explanation, please read Simon Kaheru’s post on his bog appropriately titled “Management toilets versus toilet management”read more.
Travellers on public transport on the eastern route are indeed suffering from our government’s poor management. This in my view warrants the proclamation of a state of emergency. Article 110 (1) of the Constitution of Uganda would be better applied to this situation than to apply it clearing debts of members of parliament, which they accumulated through their own stupidity and greed read more and weep.
I must finish on a positive note. When our fellow passengers finished releasing their waste, the staff of Kakise, provided them with a jerrycan of water and soap to wash their hands and to clean up before they got back on to the bus. Kudos to Kakise.