It is 3:00 p.m. in Nyarugenge District in Kigali’s Central Business District (CBD) where many commuters convene
Around 30 motorcycles are lined up in front of the taxi-park, keeping one-meter distance between them.
There is a female youth volunteer in a green vest, who keeps telling them to observe physical distancing, as some continue defy the directives due to the stiff competition for passengers.
She also observes if all passengers are given sanitizers to wash their hands before the ride, or if the passengers have well fit cloths to wear under the helmet.
This is part of the guidelines that were issued by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) on May 27, with an aim to control the spread of Covid-19.
Taxi-motos resumed their operations on June 3, after two months of suspension following a countrywide lockdown.
Among the new guidelines, motorcyclists and passengers must carry hand sanitizers to use before trips, passengers must have pieces of cloths to wear under helmets, and that motorcyclists must observe social distancing where they park.
Other guidelines are that passengers who can afford, buy their own helmets, and that people are encouraged to use cashless payments, among others.
According to youth volunteer, Adeline Uwanyirigira, who is in charge of enforcing these guidelines at one of the taxi-moto stages in CBD, only a few passengers have their own helmets, use cashless payments, or have their own hand sanitizers.
However, she says people are understanding more that they need to have pieces of cloths to wear under helmets.
“On the first day, both the passengers and motorcyclists didn’t understand the measures. The passenger would come without a piece of cloth, and the motorcyclist would lend them his,” Uwanyirigira said.
Uwanyirigira adds that their job, as youth volunteers is to stop the bad habits, and that more and more people are abiding by the guidelines.
“Today, motorcyclists are first asking passengers if they have pieces of cloths, and if they don’t, they are required to buy them. They can’t take you if you don’t have the cloth, and they all have hand sanitizers,” she said.
Uwanyirigira’s task is to also make sure the little bottles the motorcyclists have, really contain hand sanitizers.
Jean de Dieu Ntibarikure, 25 is a taxi-moto operator in Nyarugenge District.
Speaking to The New Times, he said he had taken 12 clients, and only two of them had their own helmets.
He also says only a few passengers are using cashless payments.
Apollinaire, first name withheld on request, is also a taxi-moto operator. He says that he and his clients are abiding with the guidelines.
“All clients have pieces of cloth. Those who don’t buy them on the spot; they range from Rwf500 to Rwf1,000,” he said.
He and several other motorists, youth volunteers and commuters say that majority of the population are relatively complying with the precautionary measures set by the health authorities.