Taxi Tales: No Pioneer Buses
By David Tumusiime, Uganda:
I loved taxis before Pioneer buses came onto our roads. With all their faults, their overcharging us, their intermittent stops, I still loved taxis. I think taxis are the best crash lessons you can give anyone to understand Uganda. Anything that happens in Uganda happens in taxis.
But I love taxis now more than ever, since I have seen what should be the alternative. I had never travelled on the Yutong Pioneer buses and if I never again, I'll not be the sadder for it. You guys who travel on them every day, I'm not sure what you're chewing to endure the ordeal.
Our village taxis have nothing on the town buses when it comes to overloading. I was in one where, for the duration of the ride, my nose was in someone's armpit. All the while I'm quite sure someone behind me was learning all that glitters is not gold because they kept furtively trying to empty my already empty back pocket.
Taxi overloading already bothers me. It's nearly unavoidable when you travel at night. But at least you can beat them at their own game by either taking the front seat or the back seats. If you take the back seat, you'll have to get out sometime though.
Worse than taxi passengers, bus passengers hate to make room for your exit. They don't even want to hear of getting off the bus first so you can comfortably get out too. Your exit progress therefore becomes a case of shoving and pushing and I swear someone kicked me in the shins! Could I protest? That would have been to provoke even more.
It might just be me but somehow the thrill of watching the loathing buses inspire in taxi drivers and their touts does not compensate for the other thing: the pitying looks I get from other car owners on the road. I guess it must be the looks I sometimes throw the way of street kids and beggars, when I'm not stressed. You know, that look that says I'm so glad that's not me. Now how can I live my life to make sure I'll never be in that position?
Bus passengers inspire those looks. The look I used to get from the gateman when I'd arrive at Sheraton Hotel on a boda boda. No more buses for me!