The increased number of motor cycles in the city has made life easier for Rwanda’s public transportation. Always chasing after time, people have resorted to summoning for the now popular ‘motos’ that are always on standby at their easily accessible stages.
Like at any other market with prices to be negotiated, the same is true when it comes to using motos; the extent to which customers or moto riders bargain, will determine the transport fee. However, there are fixed fares for specific destinations.
One day as I was walking breathlessly towards the main road, my only prayer was to get to work on time and beat the arrival deadline which is 8:00 am. There was no way I was going to make it from Gikondo to Kimihurura in five short minutes if I used a public bus.
My only answer was a moto, and a quick one at that. As I headed to the moto stage, a swarm of bikes just came after me as their riders shouted; ‘Sister! Ngwino nkujyane!’, this in the Kinyarwanda language means, ‘Sister! Come, let me take you!’
The motos are categorized in two and this will determine the kind of stage they will stand at. The bigger and faster ones are coloured in green and yellow with their riders wearing a similarly green with yellow striped coat.
The smaller and slower motos, commonly referred to as, ‘ihene’s’ (goats in Kinyarwanda)- probably due to their noisy engines are Blue and red in colour with riders in similar coat colours. The former go for a higher price than the latter.
I opted for the nearest green and yellow moto. Before I could sit, the rider hands me a dirty helmet as we heatedly negotiate the Rwf800 transport fee.
Eventually he agrees to a price which was 200 less from what he had earlier stated. That is when I wore the dirty helmet. I could not object but wear it since it was a rule for anyone seated on a moto.
He immediately speeds off so fast that my heartbeat raced three times faster with every passing meter.
As my adrenaline was rising, I shouted at the motorist to reduce his speed. The sound of the whistling wind could not permit this to happen since my voice was quickly blown away. Instead I started to say a silent prayer asking God to guide the motorist so that we both reached safely to our final destination; which we did.
Today, motos have become the most preferred means of transport because of their efficiency and easy access through traffic jams. Unlike taxis, motorists can ride through roads that lead people to any place of their choice.
Claudine Uwamahoro is a Kigali resident who uses a motor to go to work and return back home late in the evening after her classes. She agrees that they are her favourite means of transportation.
“Motos are everywhere; they are cheap and can stop at any stage of your choice after dodging traffic.”
On the other hand, Jean Pierre Kazungu, a demobilized soldier who has been a taxi driver for the last 12 years, does not agree. He says that they are a necessary nuisance on Kigali’s streets.
“I have gone through numerous difficulties but my worst experience is that of a moto accident. I saw a car coming from Nyabogogo side while a motor cycle headed towards its direction from Remera.
They were both speeding as they crossed the junction heading to Cadillac, then in just a blink of an eye ‘boom!’, the motorcyclist was finished,” Kazungu narrated.
This is the reality of using motos. Some motorists are indisciplined, dirty and careless about their lives and the passengers they carry. Due to this speeding menace, motos despite their convenience and efficiency have been registered as the highest cause of road accidents.
According to Superintendent Benoit Nsegiyumva, the Deputy Commander Traffic Police, “many accidents are caused by the negligence of the drivers and motorists.”
“Often vehicle drivers fail to notice motorcycles in traffic.
Many times motorists collide in the narrow road between cars as they filter through the traffic jam hence causing a motorcycle accident,” Nsegiyumva said.
Since many motorcyclists enjoy riding their speed machines as they feel the rush of the wind, the speed is usually the cause of their death or permanent body damage.
These devastating consequences of speeding are shown by the 317 accidents that have been registered since the beginning of this year up until June.
According to statistics from the Traffic Police Accident Department, negligence accounts for over 50 percent of road accidents as compared to other causes.
Other causes of accidents are poor road conditions, mechanical problems in vehicles and motorcycles, bad maneuvering, illiteracy about road signs, over speeding, rain and drunk driving which is the most common cause of accidents on weekends.
To cub down the increasing number of accidents, the Traffic Police have set serious measures against people who go contrary to what the law says. The punishments range from a fine of Rwf10,000 to Rwf150,000 depending on the mistakes drivers make.
The role of the Traffic Police apart from immediately fining motorists is to inform ASSETAMORWA, the confederation of all motorist associations around the country about their member’s misconduct on the roads.
Made up of 30 associations, ASSETAMORWA on the other hand is the future hope for motorist associations in Rwanda. Composed of 8,000 members countrywide, 2,134 motorist members are found in Kigali City.
Most members of ASSETAMORWA are covered by the Rwanda Social Security Fund. They are insured and in case of accident, they are compensated according to various laws of each insurer.
Through collaboration with Kigali city, motorists have been able to contribute to the community development through “Umuganda”- community work at on the last Saturday of every month. They have cleaned various streets like those of Kabuga- La Palisse- Alpha Palace and Kanogo as an act of unity.
Further still, they launched a project called, “Own your motor” and so far 800 motorists have benefited. They generated from that project, 384 motors which were given to the Nyagatare Motorist Association.
Despite the increasing number of accidents, motos remain the favourite means of transport for many. Even for the motorists, the benefits are many as their livelihoods are improved daily.
The only question that remains poised is whether motorcyclists are willing to sacrifice the fun of speed riding against the wind to make more money rather than ensure the safety of their lives and of those they carry.