Taxi drivers in Kigali city are considering legal action against the sector regulatory body, RURA, and Yego Innovation Limited over charges associated with the Intelligent Connected Fare Metres (ICFM) installed in taxi cabs.
The metres were launched in September to calculate the cost of a cab ride, speed and location. However, the system is yet to start after it ignited controversy between the three parties, according to sources.
The drivers who spoke to The New Times last week decried heavy charges they are obliged to pay to the metre provider saying they were not consulted enough and charges are too exorbitant.
The YegoCabs Intelligent Connected Fare Meter automatically calculates the fare based on the distance travelled. (Photo by Emmanuel Kwizera)
According to the initial contract signed between cab owners and Yego Innovision Limited, each driver should pay 10.5 percent of the total amount they generated per day and the charges should be paid within 24 hours.
“This is unfair because the charges are too high and we had not agreed on it,” said one of the taxi drivers who only identified himself as Aimable.
He said that charges were set basing on how much they get from passengers without considering their investment.
“Charges are calculated from how much we get only without considering how much we invest,” he said.
For instance, according to him, when he transports a passenger from Remera to the city centre, he will charge Rwf5000 of which 10.5 per cent is paid to Yego Innovation Limited.
“They ignored the fuel I use, the maintenance fee we have to pay as well as taxes. The charges also apply whenever one stops or whenever one drives long distances,” he added
Cab drivers are supposed to leave the metre running even when on a personal errand.
“How can I pay when I am attending a family member’s wedding or I am taking my kids to hospital? It is as if the car is not mine. The current contract has many loopholes that should be sorted before we can start using these metres,” he added.
Taking legal action
According to Jean Claude Kabanda, the president of cab drivers in Gasabo District, the issue has become very serious for them to handle and they have since hired a lawyer, who is helping them to engage both RURA and Yego officials.
“Initially, we resisted because it was not clear, but RURA coerced US into signing before we reached a compromise. Some drivers did not read the contract but the metres, were installed anyway,” he said.
Cab drivers who don’t have metres in their cars will be fined Rwf200,000 according to the new rules.
The drivers also said that the new metres replace others that were introduced three years ago which had already cost them Rwf215, 000.
“We tried to discuss with RURA and Yego Innovation, all in vain. We looked for a lawyer and negotiations are ongoing, we will sue both RURA and Yego Innovation if they maintain their position,” he added.
As part of negotiations, cab drivers in the City of Kigali wrote a letter to RURA through their lawyer Sephonie Maseruka Sebasaza explaining how unfair they felt they were being treated.
About 1000 cars are expected to be fitted with the metres in Kigali only, according to sources.
What officials say
When The New Times contacted Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the head of transport regulation department at RURA, he could not delve much into the issues surrounding the metres, only saying that their mandate is only to regulate.
“For us we deal with regulation and if the passengers are complaining, you should ask the two parties in question,” he said.
Katabarwa also refused to comment when asked about the high charges cab drivers allege are being charged.
According to Mahesh Kumar, the Director of Yego Innovation Limited, the issue of charges is being discussed between the company, RURA and cab drivers, and it is yet to be decided whether they will go on with the proposed prices.