Managers of the three companies that have a tender to provide public transport in the City of Kigali have ordered more than a hundred new buses to boost their capacity.
The buses are expected in the country in December as part of their efforts to meet their contractual obligations to provide reliable services to city commuters.
Nearly three months since Kigali Bus Service (KBS), Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC), and Royal Express won the tender, buses operating in the city are still few and passengers continue to ask for better services.
“I have been here for forty minutes. That’s too much in a city where people are in a hurry for work,” Kigali resident Innocent Karenzi said as he waited from a bus stop in Kicukiro last week.
Operators have also complained over unbalanced numbers of passengers found in different bus stages, many of them saying that it doesn’t make sense for them to be working in areas without passengers when there are other places where service is lacking.
“We leave people queuing here and go to other lines with fewer passengers because we cannot pick up passengers going to a different zone. It is a challenge with this system where one is overloaded while others have no passengers,” said Emmanuel Kaneza, a driver from Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC) in Kimironko.
His company is the largest of all the transport companies assigned to work in the city but there are areas it can’t touch since they are assigned to the remaining two firms.
Kaneza was driving to Zindiro where he said there were few passengers, but on another line to Kicukiro Centre, passengers for the Royal Express line were still waiting for their buses to arrive.
According to Nilla Muneza, President of Royal Express, the company is expecting 26 buses from South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group.
“We would have brought them earlier but we were obliged to first bring Hyundai technicians to study our roads. The new buses to come by end November burn less fuel and are typically adapted to our city’s topography and climate,” he said.
Eddy Mwerekande, Public Relations Officer for Kigali Bus Services (KBS), said the company expects to ship in 60 buses before the end of the year.
As for the Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC), its president Dodo Twahirwa said that it will import 60 mini buses from Japan.
Officials at RURA have constantly reassured passengers that the contractors will soon honour their promises to provide better transport services.
“Transport companies are aware that the required number of vehicles is not sufficient and we agreed they have to upgrade by November this year; they should honour their promises,” said Emmanuel Katabarwa in charge of transport at RURA.
From a tender of August 30, Kicukiro zone with different routes to downtown Kigali and the Nyabugogo trading area was assigned to Royal Express.
Routes of Remera-Kabeza, Kanombe, and Kabuga via downtown Kigali and Nyabugogo belong to KBS while the remaining directions, including Kimironko-Nyabugogo, Nyamirambo-downtown Kigali belong to RFTC.
The latter has more than 800 vehicles, each with the capacity to carry 18 passengers and 160 minibuses with the capacity to carry 30 passengers.
KBS’s fleet has 111 vehicles, include buses and minibuses, while Royal Express has more than 70 buses.
Officials say that the transport firms need at least 200 additional buses if they are to effectively honour their five year contracts to provide public transport in the city.