Operators demand transport policy
Unless a well defined transport policy is put in place, challenges of public transport in the country will not completely be solved, private operators have cautioned.
The City of Kigali, in collaboration with Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), recently directed transporters to operate on specific routes to ease transport within the city after public outcry over shortage of transport in the city, especially during peak hours.
Several transport operators who talked to The New Times, said that despite the guidelines, without an elaborate transport policy set up by the central government, challenges will remain unabated.
“Without a transport policy, these challenges will not be solved. There are lots of issues still existing in transport even after some efforts have been made to mitigate the issue,” said the Chairman of Transport Association, Charles Ngarambe.
Ngarambe, who also owns and heads Kigali Bus Services, said there is need for the government to devise such a policy to guide the implementation of such guidelines as one compelling operators to stick to particular routes.
Some taxi drivers in Rwanda Federation Transport Cooperative (RFTC), said some operators have still refused to abide by the new guidelines set up attributing it to lack of specific measures to guide the implementation.
Under the new guidelines announced last week, Kigali Bus Services will ply the downtown–Remera–Kabeza–Samuduha route, while Rwanda Federation Transport Cooperative (RFTC) will be taking downtown–Kanombe– Kimuhurura–Kimironko route.
Royal Express was assigned the Kicukiro, Gikondo routes while other taxi operators that do not subscribe to the transporters’ federation will operate in the city outskirts.
“We are still disturbed by transporters who have refused to abide by the regulations to stick to routes assigned to them; they are interfering in our routes which kills our business,” Dieudonne Habimana, who plies Kimironko route, said.
This, he said, is supported by the fact that there is no policy that prescribes any kind of punishment to those that flout these guidelines.
When contacted, the State Minister in charge of Transport, Dr Alex Nzahabwanimana, said the ministry is currently working on a draft policy to remove what he called informal practices in the sector.
“We are working with the Ministry of Local Government, carrying out consultations and we hope by August this year the draft policy will be ready for approval by the cabinet,” he said.
He added that the ministry is now closely monitoring the new guidelines to see how effective it is in solving the shortage of transport within the city.
“We are trying to establish where transport operators make losses so that we develop a clear policy that suits both the transporters and the commuters,” Nzahabwanimana said.
In the draft policy, all transport operators will be requested to register with transport federations or create companies, a move the minister said will help curb the issue of losses brought about by several errant taxi operators.
Some the operators want fares increased because of the losses incurred returning to the city from their designated routes saying that despite there being many stranded commuters in the city during peak hours; they don’t get passengers back.
Several Kigali City traders, in a rush to board taxis, have been closing shop early in the evening even when they expected more customers, and queues of hundreds are seen every evening in downtown Kigali as passengers wait to board.
The shortage of transport in Kigali worsened when KBS halted its operations on city routes citing losses, but the company has since resumed operations after discussions with RURA and city authorities.