Cab driving changed my life forever

There is a shortage of electricity supply in many parts of Rwanda. This remains a discouraging obstacle in the lives of many people who in one way or another need it to live appropriately.
A man bargains with a cab driver on one of Kigali’s busy streets (File photo)
A man bargains with a cab driver on one of Kigali’s busy streets (File photo)

There is a shortage of electricity supply in many parts of Rwanda. This remains a discouraging obstacle in the lives of many people who in one way or another need it to live appropriately.

However, there are those who have come to terms with this electricity problem and found alternative solutions. As they meet hundreds of people daily from different walks of life while they drive their cars, some cab drivers have realised an easier way to light up their houses; rather than buy electrogaz’s expensive cash power. 

Backs to passenger’s faces, cab drivers have so well concealed their stories. However some are willing to reveal the other side of cab driving; how it influences their lives, responsibilities and families. 

Michael Ngabonziza, is a thirty some year old cab driver, married with three children. He has lived in Nyamirambo since he came back home from exile in Uganda in 2000 with his wife.

Still operating in Nyamirambo, he rents a house for Rwf 50,000 which he pays for using the money he gets.

Through one of his long time friend’s goodwill, Ngabonziza got the car that he uses today as a taxi. This was his starting point and he said the taxi driving business then was booming.

A year later, he had managed to save enough to buy the car from his friend.

“Things were running smooth, and my family was happy. I have two sons whom I can afford to take care of and through the savings I have started building a house in my village” he said.

However, life took a drastic and unfair turn when, without notice, his landlord doubled Ngabonziza’s rent to Rwf 100,000 at the end of May this year.

“Either my developments led to this but I had no choice but to relocate my family to Mutara District where my house is,” Ngabonziza said.

“Definitely, there would be no hope of getting customers there,” he said disappointed.

According to him it was difficult letting go of his former customers whom he had already made his own.

This abrupt change of environment for the cab driver and his family was hard but the sooner they learnt to cope, Ngabonziza said the more they appreciated the calmness in the village.

However, calmness was not all they needed, their unfinished house had no electricity, water or widows yet these were basics for their survival in the village.

For someone who was used to electricity, Ngabonziza said, the loss of power meant the complete loss of normalcy. It was different for him and his family but looking at it positively, they were actually saving because no more rent was required from them.

“Improvising everything has been the order of the day since I settled here,” he said.

With his wife, Diana breastfeeding a 3-months- old baby, there was no way the family would live without lighting.

The jovial cab driver jokes of how he has to rush home before darkness since to improvise for electricity by using his car battery to light the house.

“My car battery is my electricity,” he happily says.
Pround to sustain and make his family comfortable, the smart and eloquent Ngabonziza is contented.

Though he is forced to retire early every day, he waits for a time when he will acquire another means of lighting in his Mutara home.

He wakes very early in the morning and at least transports three passengers coming to Kigali in his car. He charges them at a throw away price in order to drop them at their respective places of work.

“Not so many people use cabs during the day. They opt for the far cheaper public service vehicles and I no longer work at night. Now my income has gone down,” he said.

Hard life or not, Ngabonziza is optimistic that sooner than later after he has electricity in his house, he will be back on his feet and at least will work late hours.

“I am sure if through my customers’ support, I will even manage to buy another car by the end of this year through a loan from the small microfinance institutions.”

Ngabonziza is just one of the many Rwandans who have shown true determination and courage. His determination he said should be an example to the youth in the country who thinks that less education is an excuse for laziness and poverty.

“Poverty is not mere lack of money but inability to get what one needs at a time when they are in most need,” Ngabonziza advised.

karuthum@gmail.com

 

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