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The True Cost of Taking a Taxi

I wanted to write a post on some practicalities of navigating around Uganda and other African nations. The private taxi system is the cheapest way of getting around (not to be confused with private hire cars) and probably the safest way of getting around (on condition you don’t walk around with all your bling on and get into an empty one).

Taxi from redpepper.co.ug
Taxi from redpepper.co.ug

The taxis travel to certain locations, so when I was living in Seeta, I got a taxi on the main road going to Kampala. I would then alight when I arrived at Bweyogere or Kireka. The taxis have designated “stages” (stops), that you can get on or off at, and when you’re approaching the stage you wish to get off at you simple say “stage” to the conductor and hand him the money. Alongside that, once your more familiar with where you are you can use the word “parking” and get dropped at the side of the road, rather than having to wait for the next location.

Cost wise as a rule of thumb it seems to be around 500 shilling per stage, but the further the distance you travel the cheaper it is. To travel from Seeta to Bweyogere or Kireka (10km, 20-30 minutes) was 1000 shillings, travelling all the way to Kampala was usually around 2000 (20km, 50-60 minutes).

It’s worth asking a local how much it should be to where your going, as the stages have people who will help you get on the right taxi, but if you ask them or the conductor how much it should cost, if your white, you sometimes got a different price. Whereas when you just pay (either the right change, or above), they assume you know the right price, so charge you accordingly.

Now the exchange rate while I was there was about £1.70 for 10,000 shillings, which makes a trip very inexpensive (17p to get to work), but I damaged a nice pair of trousers and a nice pair of shorts getting in/out of a taxi (there are lots of sharp edges, everywhere!) so those journeys cost 17p + £20 = £20.17 (they were English clothes, not Ugandan).

Andy Galpin

Andy Galpin

Business Consultant for IBM. Passionate about God, and equipping His church to fulfil the great commission. Posts on mission, culture, leadership and recruitment. My opinions are all my own.