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FRIENDSHIP TAXI DRIVERS VOW TO CASTRATE SEYA (HE DEFRAUDED US)

By Mulengera Reporters

Hundreds of young men previously recruited as drivers under a company called Friendship Taxis have vowed to castrate ex-Kampala Mayor Nasser Ntege Sebaggala.

They are angry Seya and some of his sons lured them into working with a group of Chinese investors and executives who have turned out to be conmen out to just exploit them.

Led by their Chairman Najib Ssali, the drivers say they were contracted to drive for the company for 5 years whereafter the cabs would become theirs. But along the way, the Chinese based in Kansanga turned against them and refused to give them any signed contracts.

State Minister for Transport Aggrey Bagire the day he flagged off one of the new taxis company at a glamorous event at Serena Hotel

This reduced the entire relationship to mere verbal understanding. The original condition was reporting Shs100,000 to the Chinese owners daily. Yet the responsibility to service the vehicles and pay the relevant expenses like 3rd party and the Shs360,000 annually for car rental fees all fell on the shoulders of the riders.

They too had to fuel the vehicles daily and to also and to also replace worn-out tires. The routine servicing had to be done at Mandera’s City Oil Service Centers at the drivers’ cost.

Najib says to meet these stringent conditions, set by the Chinese Seya brought into Kampala and run radio announcements for calling for recruitment, the drivers have had to work day and night.

That when night security became complex and threats increased for those working at night, they cried out to Seya who caused meetings during which the Chinese reluctantly agreed to reduce the daily fees to Shs80,000 which too proved too much.

The drivers cried out but weren’t listened to prompting Seya, who says was an original shareholder, to become frustrated and quit the company.

His exit prompted the Chinese, who always saw him as a godfather of sorts, to resort to new power brokers in form of police and State House bosses.

Aggrey Bagiire is the line Minister in charge of transport whose Commissioner Winston Katushabe says their hands are tied and there is nothing they can do to help fleeced drivers until the new law comes into force

Najib says the weekly Monday meetings during which drivers used to raise their grievances were stopped after pandemonium erupted at the previous one. What happened? In that fateful meeting, the company Ag. CEO a one Clifford sneaked in plain-clothed but armed guys who he introduced as very powerful people from State House. These intimidated the drivers during the meeting as Clifford loudly shouted “I have always told you guys there isn’t anything you can do.”

In that meeting, perceived trouble causers were identified and forced to surrender vehicles for which they had for three years been depositing Shs100,000 per day and were on the verge of finishing the full payment to begin demanding for log books evidencing ownership as had initially been promised to them by Seya.

Diplomats cracking jokes at a recent city small taxis-related ceremony at Serena Hotel

There are some hardworking guys who had 100% completed the required money in advance and were here demanding transfer of vehicle ownership which the Chinese rejected saying with police and State House bosses on their side, there wasn’t much the young men could do.

Edward Tebasoboke, one of the aggrieved drivers, says they went to many offices reporting this injustice but weren’t helped simply because they are poor Ugandans with no money to buy their way. That in some instances the Chinese would connive with police to detain the vehicles over minor traffic offences but the drivers couldn’t follow up because they have no ownership documents which are in the hands of the Chinese bosses.

That because of lack of signed agreements, the drivers haven’t easily had their way prompting some bad-hearted ones to deliberately crush the cars into accidents just to cause the Chinese some pain also. Time came and the Chinese would receive the Shs100,000 per day but wouldn’t issue receipts.

Guests at a recent public transport-related discussion at Serena Hotel where Minister Bagiire presided over. The anti-Seya drivers are now faced with challenges similar to what stakeholders discussed that evening

All this trickery was reported to Seya who resorted to telling the drivers (through his sons) that his hands are tired as the Chinese had now become too powerful to the extent of forcing him out of the company.

That the DFCU bank at some point came in and offered to lease cars to these very hard-working drivers on better terms but the Chinese, relying on connections in high places, sabotaged the deal by threatening the bank managers.

Recently the Chinese duped Stanbic Bank into giving them a transport framework contract which the boys continue to execute yet they don’t get even a penny from whatever Stanbic pays per month for the transportation of its employees. The deal is a huge risk to bank operations and employees because the drivers themselves are too disgruntled and can even cause harm to the bank’s delicate operations. They use personal money to fuel the cars to do Stanbic Bank errands and yet they earn nothing off the deal.

Only last week, one of the disgruntled drivers stormed the Chinese MD’s office demanding for his log book. Saying he was a nobody, the Chinese slapped him and, in the process, removed one of his teeth. As other disgruntled office employees cheered, the young man gathered his guts and punched the Chinese harder in self-defense. In anger, the Chinese descended on other employees in his office and thumped them like chicken thieves simply because they laughed as their fellow Ugandan pumped sense into him. Katongole reported the case of physical violence against his Chinese boss at Katwe Police Station.

Speaking to journalists, Seya admitted bringing the Chinese investors to Kampala when he was still Mayor and was originally a shareholder before the Chinese shrewdly forced him out of the company. He nevertheless remains proud that the Friendship Taxis initiative caused competition that forced cabs’ fares generally down around town.

He says he has only been hearing of mistreatment of Ugandan drivers and doesn’t have concrete proof about it. He advises the aggrieved drivers to go to him personally so that he can see how to use his position as senior presidential advisor to help them.

He insisted scribes should speak to Clifford for a more current position. On his part Clifford said he had involved the lawyers of Top Finance Bank into the feud and it’s them to now sort out the rampaging drivers on his company’s behalf.

Najib says whereas the company originally had 120 cabs in the different suburbs of the city, today only 25 remain active. The rest are no more. The company has been using police and State House connections to forcefully confiscate and sell off the cabs leaving Ugandan drivers with nothing. From the Ministry of Works, the concerned Commissioner Winston Katushabe says there isn’t much they can do to get a remedy for the aggrieved drivers because their original business relationship with the Chinese cabs’ owners wasn’t covered under any law.

This is the mischief, he says, they are trying to cure through the recent draft legislation their Minister Monica Azuba tabled in cabinet seeking to regulate relationship between taxi drivers and taxi owners. He says it’s high time those taxi drivers, who made noise when New Vision reported about the proposals in the new law, realized it’s for their good and embrace it whole heartedly because without it there is no way government can come in to help them whenever they are aggrieved against their employers the taxi owners. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164756 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

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