The real economy drivers

A bank teller in Uganda earns about Shs500, 000 (US$309.5) on average in a month. That is good money in some circles of the society. When one is employed by the bank, chances are that they shall be given some transport allowance and the assurance that when the Anopheles come a-sucking, they wont have to worry about dying of malaria like many villagers in the country side.

The neighbours of someone who works at the bank will whisper among themselves when he goes past that “there goes the banker.” His neighbours to refer to him as ‘Banker.’

It’s all good. He dresses the part, leaves in the morning and returns in the evening. He’s also upgraded to suit the role. He’s bought a car; the bank has given him a loan, which he will soon finish paying. He is a regular at Club 10 or in the vicinity of the Ntinda Mall because that is the place to be these days.

Do not stand too close to the road when it’s been raining. When he comes around with his Premio, he’ll not see you at the road side. Seeing you will mean letting you into the warmth and the cleanness of his car and therefore, dirtying it. He’s a busy person. That’s why he’ll splash dirty water on you – and not apologise. He won’t see you, you see.

The man sitting at the wheel of the ‘taxi’ that pulls up near you as you regain your position after Banker has left in a huff earns about Shs30, 000 daily. The owner of the taxi, Omugagga, as he is refered to by the driver and his sidekick with sweaty armpits, (the one who everyone call Conductor. They hate the name Wololo by which they are known in Busoga) will get about Shs30, 000 if he’s lucky everyday.

There are just too many problems on the road. There are traffic officers who are diligent followers of the law of “thou shall eat where thou hath wiped perspiration from thy brow.” They get on the road and target taxis and extract the odd Shs5000 or tenner and before the afternoon, they’ve got enough to pay off their supervisors and also enough to take the madam out for the evening. They then retire for the day.

Our driver will make up for that shortfall easily. Taxi operators are known for the annoying habit of pushing their vehicles to the nearest fuel station then putting in Shs5000, an amount that will take them for a very short distance.

But the point is not how much money they spend. It is about how much they take in. At the end of the day, there is about Shs100, 000. He will give his sidekick a twenty or there abouts, give Omugagga his 30K on the days when he doesn’t report traffic police interference or a dead day in the garage.

Dude’s making a killing. With Shs50, 000 per day, this guy can comfortably tell Sudhir Ruparellia to stuff his bank job.

By the way, is there a better song than Brooke Fraser’s Hymn?


About Steven

It wasn't me; arrest the voices. It was the voices in my head. Sike! I am Ugandan first. I care for development in my country. I am a curious observer second and I care to know what you think.
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14 Responses to The real economy drivers

  1. kakaire says:

    It’s true. It’s like the taxi drivers own the taxi and only pay the owner “royalties” for using his taxi.

    We Ugandans love prestigious job titles even if they don’t actually pay a whole lot.

  2. slybard says:

    @Kakaire: True dat!

  3. dannycrane says:

    mmm u are right those guys make a killing!!

  4. chanelno5 says:

    Aint you on a roll lately. Good to have the blogger in you back. Plus I wonder how much of this killing the taxi driver uses to buy drinking water where the banker gets his from the dispenser. How about lunch? How about when he falls sick from that 5am to midnight stuggle. How much does he spend of this on medication. On his family because the banker has his family covered by employer. Then I wonder how much he takes home at the end of the month after paying taxes plus does he pay social security?

  5. Dante says:

    Somehow, I doubt this. A taxi driver i talked to a while back said he made 30,000 a week – not per day. But if you indeed met one who makes that in a day – AFTER paying the owner and conductor their cut, then indeed he’s a lucky chap. 30K a day means 180K a 6-day week. 720K a month. Do you ALL seriously believe taxi drivers make this much?!

  6. Even Steven says:

    Dante, good point. There are many who may not be in this bracket. But there are opportunities to make this kind of money when you are driving a taxi. But I have two aunties who both had taxis and they were given 30k. that was the agrmnt. instead, they fleeced both ladies, giving them daily complaints about the police and the garage. of course i got curious and asked how much these people really get. and this was about five years ago. they graduated and bought their own cars. both drivers.

    again, this could be a case of one in a million.

  7. Miss Cheri says:

    Yes Dante,they make that much money…imagine a Kyaliwajjala bound taxi fromt he park costs a passenger 1,200X 14 (sometimes 17 passengers) and he makes like 10 trips a day-at the very least. He wakes up at 5am and retires after 10 or 11pm. Then he only takes in about 30-50,000 fuels the whole day. That’s like 118,000k A day.

    Of course they have good days and bad days.

  8. Miss Cheri says:

    Chanel, u raise good points.

  9. I think the point is, Phantom, how much they spend… that’s what builds an economy and judging by the title of your post, the real economy drivers, I’d pick the matatu/taxi operator for the better driver (pun intended!). Look how many people (and their children and uncles and in-laws and even cats too) feed off of him… from the police, to the fill-up touts at the ungazetted pick-up points, to the garage folk when the tyres get punctured (isn’t it the rainy season already now by the way?) to the utoda sticker folk to the guys that ran off without paying (they save what they’d have paid, no?) to the lunch-lady in the park, to the guys that push the car so it can kick-start and then finally to the ‘omugaga’. And everybody’s smiling cuz at the end of the long day, the taxi driver will be preparing for yet another! Reminds me of Barlow’s “Building the Nation”. Cheers for this.

  10. tumwijuke says:

    Echoing Zack about the spending.

    Speaking of taxi drivers, my van is a daytime special hire taxi. The guy who has been driving it for the past two years recently bought himself a plot of land and is building a house. I’m still wallowing in poverty. Go figure.

  11. antipop says:

    yea. “kagoma” by bobbi wine

  12. Mr. B2B says:

    it is now 1,500/= to Kyaliwajala not 1,200
    so you can re-do the maths

    and Steve
    Zack did smack a few points home!

  13. Joshi says:

    Of the 14 or 17 passengers original from the taxi park, how many do reach the termination point of the journey? Plus 30-50K on fuel?At what’s the cost of fuel..2K..3K..10 trips? Peak hour in kampala city is 7-9am and 5-7pm..four hours..most of which spent in traffic or stopping to pick up or drop off add in the competition these days on the road..50K surely is a hypothetical sum of money if you ask me..

  14. dannycrane says:

    mmm bloggers are good economists too!! resign ur jobs and become taxi drivers!!

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