Festive season rush overwhelm transport companies

Passengers queue at Nyabugogo bus terminal yesterday. There was high demand for public transport as many people headed to the countryside for Christmas. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

It is a custom for people to join their families upcountry to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. This is evident by how Nyabugogo Bus Terminal is overcrowded two to three days before December 25.

Entering the bus terminal, long queues are at every booking office, and although security companies help with keeping order, in some places people shove each other to be served first.

Judith Uwimana is a domestic worker going back to her home in Huye district.

“I arrived here at six in the morning, and I am leaving with the 12:00 bus. I am coming back after New Year’s celebrations,” she told The New Times.

Hakizimana (not real name) is a young man, who was also going to his family in Ruhango District.

“I haven’t booked my ticket yet, because I couldn’t even find where to step. People are pushing each other to get tickets”.

Some groups in the park are comprised of women carrying children, and the elderly, who choose to stick to the line than fight for tickets, since they can’t.

“I just got here, someone booked the ticket for me early in the morning. Yesterday we came in the morning when tickets were sold out, so we decided to come earlier today”, said an elderly man who was waiting for a bus to Karongi District.

Although the travellers complain of waiting for many hours for the buses, travel agency owners say they try their best to cater to them.

Speaking to The New Times, François Birohoza, of Alpha Tours in Nyabugogo, said the clients are very many and that they are doing their best to meet the demand.

“We had like 2,000 people yesterday, and today they will be so many times more than that. Now, (11:00 am), we have transported around 5,000 people. Usually, some of our buses are not fully occupied, we take like 600 people per day.”

Birohoza further explained that they are extending their closing hours because people are many.

Rwanda Inter-Link Transport Company, commonly known as RITCO is another travel agency that goes to different locations across the country.

Junior Rugira, the Operations Manager at RITCO explained that clients increased hugely on Christmas eve and the day before.

“We normally transport 50,000 to 60,000 people per week, but during this festive season, we have almost doubled the number. Yesterday, they were around 20 thousand, and today they are going to be much more.”

Rugira explained that the tickets they were issuing then (it was almost midday) were for buses leaving at 4:00 pm, that evening.

He also said that the agency would work 24 hours a day the whole festive season so as to meet the demand from their clients, for transport.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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