50 taxi drivers arrested over strike

At least 50 people suspected to be taxi drivers and conductors were yesterday arrested by the police on allegations of participating in a strike.

The suspects are now detained at different police stations on charges of obstructing traffic, malicious damage of property and assault. Most of the suspects were arrested in the Mukono, Katwe, Salaama Road and at Namasuba on Entebbe Road.

The Police spokesperson, Ms Judith Nabakooba, said the suspects have allegedly been blocking taxis from transporting people. “They are recording their statements with our detectives on a range of offences,” Ms Nabakooba said yesterday. Police deployed heavily in the two city taxi parks and stages to ensure security.

In Katwe town, there was bloody confrontation between the striking drivers and conductors and Uganda Taxi Owners and Drivers Association (Utoda).
Police intervened to separate the two sides but at least 12 drivers sustained serious injuries.

Interestingly, police arrested the injured drivers on allegations of malicious damage to property. Mr Ibin Ssenkumbi, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, said by the time they reached the scene the Utoda officials had already left.
“In fact, we just rescued them ( the drivers) from the mob that wanted to lynch them after they blocked some taxis from loading passengers,” Mr Ssenkumbi said.
There were similar confrontations in Mukono Municipal areas leading to the arrest of 12 drivers.

Some drivers told Daily Monitor that their colleagues were found in parking yards near taxi stages and were arrested by plain-clothed officers travelling in vehicles with private number plates and tinted windows. “Cars with tinted windows, owned by Utoda officials, moved from one taxi stage to another and armed men arrested drivers suspected to have participated in the strike,” one taxi driver, who preferred anonymity for fear of being arrested by security operatives, said.

Mr Ssenkumbi denied the allegations that they are working with Utoda officials to violate drivers’ right to express their grievances.

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