Aliinde Tom is a Customer Management Expert and Training Facilitator at Face Brands

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Believe me, almost everyone here loves to board or get on to a plane, something commonly called ebaati. You see families at both the departure and arrival sections of our renowned Entebbe airport each day except during the covid-19 era when all planes were grounded in a rare lockdown!

Planes are sure only for the chosen few given the dynamics involved, yet many of us have varied reasons for travel in, around, and beyond the borders of Uganda. So, you and I have the popular option of road transport to take care of our varied travel needs. The means I am talking about include the buses, taxis which our Kenyan neighbors call “matatu”, coasters, cars, and bicycles among others.

Since many of us cannot go for the Entebbe airport planes yet must serve our travel needs, what comfortable choices must we make or are available to us?

I have observed and taken a critical look at our road transporters for about the last seven (7) years now. Many discoveries I have made about buses and taxis that commonly operate on Ugandan roads. In my discussion here you will understand the dynamics and challenges presented by many of the operators, be it buses or taxis. On your next journey therefore you will make an informed choice on what to use from Kampala to Kasese or Kampala to Hoima.

I must tell you also that I have personally been a player in the transport industry for the last seven (7) years. I have therefore been in constant touch or at least closer to a number of events. I have also had conversations with travelers that we popularly call passengers. This in essence means I have had involvement with a number of travelers as regards their experiences with operators in Uganda’s transport industry.

First and very important to note is that, many public service vehicles are solely owned. This speaks volumes about the quality of service that any passenger would get when they travel by bus or taxi. Quite often the said individuals like companies are driven by profit. Whereas companies are guided by a set of objectives, mission, and vision plus other standard principles, actions by individual operators are unpredictable and depend on the owner’s orientation, attitudes, and world view among other factors.

Uganda’s transport industry has until recently been left to run as an informal sector. The above fact has for years denied travelers all they deserve as customers with respect to basic customer care standards. Individuals that have invested in the industry have seemed more focused on earnings other than on the consideration to create lasting businesses that grow with changing times.

Even as you read this article now, someone is being cheated but nobody is there to listen because the operator has no physical office, another one is stranded midway through the journey due to a mechanical breakdown yet the operator staff has gone into hiding to avoid the possibility of refund. This in essence means one has to find own means to reach their destination!

There are many other challenges that Ugandan travelers go through, some of which you may even never imagine, including arrogance and poor quality service by untrained staff, overloading once vehicles get to less monitored areas and passengers having to endure quarrels between staff due to personal conflicts. It is also common for operators to take travelers beyond their intended stages, grab more money than what was agreed upon, and repair vehicles on stage with passengers onboard. It should be noted that repairing a vehicle on stage is against the Traffic and Road Safety act of 1998 in the laws of Uganda.

But with all the above in mind, Uganda’s transport industry is in transition. I have observed an improving level of services and respect for customers, to be specific bus companies such as YY Coaches that plies the eastern as well as the northern routes. Global Coaches on a specialized route to Mbarara is another preferred one, to the extent that people traveling from districts beyond  Mbarara stop in the city only to get on the Global buses to Kampala and the same happens from Kampala to the upcountry. The Global Coaches has specifically distinguished itself as a time manager. Passengers are sure to set off just about 20 minutes from the time they are booked in.

I cannot go without telling you about Link Buses, the green, flourishing exceptional brand which is no doubt vividly leading the way in turning around the conventions of the transport industry. First, the company has transformed its fleet from the old unreliable buses in the year 2019. This company has invested quite considerably in building the capacity of its human resources ranging from customer handling, first aid, health, and safety to road safety issues. With Link Buses, therefore, if it was a football game, it would be the entertaining football of Spain.

Link buses have invested heavily in putting up well-planned bus terminals and these are by far the best across the country, if not the East African region. The terminals provide safe movement for people with disabilities but as well guarantee security for travelers and their property. More to security, the brand has invested in both human and artificial intelligence, specifically by installing CCTV cameras for surveillance purposes. This definitely gives passengers another reason to trust the company, since security matters are handled proactively.

The green brand has gone beyond all Ugandan operators by installing a driver management system across its fleet. This comes with a facial recognition camera for the driver, cabin cameras to observe the passenger area as well as cameras that observe all-round the buses.

The company also has well-trained and available staff to handle and follow up on customer queries, individually call senders and receivers in relation to their parcels, and also handle the phone traffic of callers as well as social media.

It is important to mention that Link buses from Kampala go to various districts to include Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kyenjojo, Kagadi, Kibaale, Hoima, Buliisa, Masindi and Arua among others. It is this bus brand that is a market leader on the route to the Rwenzoris, the biggest tourism destination for Uganda through the Fortportal tourism city.

With just a small picture above shared with you, endeavor to think about the mentioned bus brands and travel with the best, the next time you have to.

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