Transport crisis as Xmas holidays sets in

Passengers in Kigali City have called on private travel agencies and government to increase vehicles for commuter transport during Christmas and end of year holidays to enable easy access to transport as people join their families for festivities
TIME TO GO HOME : People stranded at Nyabugogo main taxi park on their way home for Christmas. (Photo/ G.Barya)
TIME TO GO HOME : People stranded at Nyabugogo main taxi park on their way home for Christmas. (Photo/ G.Barya)

Passengers in Kigali City have called on private travel agencies and government to increase vehicles for commuter transport during Christmas and end of year holidays to enable easy access to transport as people join their families for festivities.

Some travelers have started spending long hours at bus stations in different areas of the city waiting to get traveling tickets.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, some of them had panicked that they were going to miss out partying with their families out of the city and urged those in charge of transport to mitigate the problem.

“Public transport cars are very few, there is really need to increase them. There is need to ensure that people don’t suffer during festive periods like these,” said Eugenie Sifa who had accompanied her sister to Nyabugogo main bus park to send her off to Muhanga District in the Southern Province.

Issa Ngeze, the first vice-president of ATRACO, an association of taxi drivers in the country, said that the body has started to increase the numbers of commuter taxis to transport people in town since yesterday.

“Passengers increase when it comes to times like these [Christmas and New Year holidays]. We are doing our best but they also have to bear with us,” Ngeze said.

He pointed out that ATRACO had brought in seven buses in town with the capacity of carrying 33 passengers, adding that they plan to bring in eight more with the same capacity to boost transport given the demand of passengers.

But the real challenge for ATRACO, according to Ngeze, is to ensure transport for people traveling upcountry. He said that the government-run transport service operator, ONATRACOM, should intervene to help those traveling upcountry from Kigali city to reach their relatives.

“Given the numbers of people seeking the service, ONATRACOM should intervene. Our drivers have to wait to get passengers coming back to Kigali in order to continue operating and in most cases they are not many,” he said.

Sources at the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), said yesterday that government is yet to be officially alerted on the problem but ONATRACOM’s Chief of Transport Service, Antoine Muzindutsi, said the operator is ready to extend its working hours when need arises during Christmas and New Year holidays.

“We expect that passengers’ complaints will have increased by tomorrow (today), the only way we plan to deal with this issue is to order our drivers to work longer hours in order to help travelers,” Muzindutsi said.

He said that government-owned transport service operator was yet to receive complaints from passengers but assured that the agency was ready to deal with the situation.

ONATRACOM remains the most used transport service provider for ordinary people traveling for long distances from main roads to the remotest areas of the country.

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