Several students in Mukono district were yesterday left stranded on the road due to increased transport fares brought about by the abrupt closure of schools by President Yoweri Museveni.
On Sunday night, Museveni directed the closure of all educational institutions across the country for 42 days as part of the fresh measures to control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
As a result, schools started discharging learners on Monday to return to their homes. However, several students were by Monday evening still stuck on the road after failing to get transport back to their homes. Several students claimed they had received from their parents less money compared to what taxis and boda bodas were charging, leaving many of them stranded at Collins, Namirembe, Bishop, Kigunga, Jomayi, and Seeta town taxi stages.
For instance, travellers from Mukono to Kampala on boda boda are charged Shs 13,000 and between Shs 8,000 and Shs 10,000 for taxis. While transport from Mukono to Jinja and Kayunga rose to Shs 30, 000 from the usual Shs 10,000.
Our reporter found Clair Nansimbe one of the students at Paul Mukasa secondary school stuck at Kigunga stage in Ggoma division. She explained that her parent sent her only Shs 10, 000 for transport to Njeru municipality but taxis are insisting on Shs 25,000 and her mother’s mobile phone number was switched off.
Shenah Nkinzi, a student from Bishop secondary school, says that their parents had just returned them to school and used all the money, saying that they are struggling to find transport means of picking them from school. She said the constant abrupt closure of schools has made some of them lose interest in schooling altogether.
"We have not even moved a step from form 5 to form 6. It's like we're wasting time and now we've broken off again. I even do not know what to say for now. I just feel like I want to finish because time is going and age. I no longer want to study again though our parents still have that vigour to pay fees for their girls to finish. But now we the kids, don't feel like studying anymore because every time we start off, we go backwards - three times. We have chores at home and so we don't get that much time to read," said Nkinzi.
Although schools were given up to three days to discharge students, many schools in Mukono seemed to be fighting to ensure that all students left their premises on Monday. Unlike in the past, where schools could organize buses to transport students to distant areas at a cheaper cost, this time around most school buses were seen parked in their compounds.
Our efforts to talk to school administrators were futile as they claimed to be busy ensuring the smooth sendoff of students. Cosmas Bagambaki, a boda boda rider notes that they doubled their fares after being cautioned against carrying two passengers. He urged parents to pick their children since they are unable to negotiate transport fares.
Rev Enos Kagodo, a father of two children at Bishop school appeals to management not to charge them again once studies resume. He appeals to the ministry of Education to issue a directive to all schools not to charge parents who had just completed school fees before the closure.