Kigali in fresh bid to revamp public transport system

Kigali Bus Services is one of three companies that do public transport in Kigali. The City of Kigali told journalists that there is a plan to ease public transport in the city. / Sam Ngendahimana

The City of Kigali plans to construct at least 180 kilometers of roads over the next four years as part of the move to ease public transport in the city and link it with neighboring regions.

The move, which among other projects, involves exploring the feasibility of bus rapid transit—a system that delivers fast, comfortable and cost-effective mobility services— is part of a strategy to revamp the transport system in the city.

Bus rapid transit is a bus transportation system that involves the use of designated bus lanes that are different from those of other vehicles.

In addition, city authorities say they plan to increase the number of buses that ply the city.

“We plan to increase the number of buses and reduce the use of private cars,” Dr. Ernest Nsabimana, the City’s Vice Mayor in Charge of Urbanisation and Infrastructure, told the press on Wednesday.

The authorities in the city have consistently been the subject of criticisms from passenger and bus operators alike due to challenges such as overloading, congestion at the bus stations (especially during peak hours) as well as poor planning, among others, that have ensured poor service delivery.

Bus operators have continued to demand longer contracts from public transport regulators so they can secure long term financing from financial institutions, needed for purchasing more buses.  This, they say, would help them decongest bus stops and parks, make more trips and ease transportation around the city.

Nsabimana said they were currently conducting a second phase of the study that will inform them about the feasibility of deploying bus rapid transit

The first part of the study showed that the project was practical, and the second phase will focus on identifying routes on which it will be implemented, Nsabimana disclosed.

The New Times has established that city authorities will, next week, hold a meeting with the World Bank officials to discuss technical details of the project.

In addition to these initiatives, last year the City of Kigali commissioned the “Public Transport Restructuring Study” which is due to be released December this year.

According to authorities, the findings of this study will help the city make decisions on how to improve transportation around the city.

Jean d’Amour Rwunguko, the Acting City Engineer, said they were waiting for the findings of the study in order to carry out reforms related to the transport fares and type of buses to recommend.

The Public Transport Restructuring study will also look at whether the city should increase the duration of the contracts given to bus operators.

The current contracts expire this month and there is a proposed seven months extension, starting September, as the city awaits the findings from the research. 

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) will start looking at new contracts and reforms to the contracts in January 2020.