Parliament pushes coops agency to streamline transport firm RFTC

Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade while analyzing a petition submitted last year by some RFTC members in Rubavu yesterday. / Sam Ngendahimana

Members of Parliament on Thursday urged Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) to work closely with the Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC) to ensure that its activities are constantly explained to its big number of members.

The call was made by members of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade while analysing a petition submitted last year by some RFTC members in Rubavu town, Western Province, who complained about the hike in parking fees.

RFTC has since moved to address the issue and the mayor of Rubavu District, Gilbert Habyarimana, said that the transporters have stopped complaining, but legislators said such complaints should be avoided as much as possible.

The mayor of Rubavu District Gilbert Habyarimana addresses Parliamentary committee yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana

After its members in Rubavu complained to Parliament, the federation stopped charging them fees it would charge them in order to pay for their parking fees in passenger parks across the north-western route because they don’t need that service as they only park in Rubavu taxi park.

For MP Théogène Munyangeyo, chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade, such a simple issue shouldn’t have required Parliament’s intervention if RFTC members were given information about their cooperative’s activities on time.

The legislator urged RCA officials to help RFTC better organise itself to ensure that it shares timely information to all its members and stakeholders to avoid unnecessary complaints.

He also urged RFTC to reach out to agencies like RCA and Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), to seek advice on how to better organise its services in the transport sector and organise its members.

“Let’s organise the sector, share information and solve issues,” he said, urging all officials from the three bodies to work together.

Bringing together several hundreds of members who are grouped under twelve cooperatives across the country, RFTC specialises in national public transport from all the provinces of Rwanda and the City of Kigali.

The federation regularly charges different service and membership fees to its members, which often creates problems if the reasons behind the fees charged are not well explained, experts said.

The Director of Economic Regulation at RURA, Benjamin Rutimirwa, advised RFTC to increase efforts at explaining how fees paid by its members are collected and used.

“RCA should work with RFTC to make sure that the federation’s members understand how the service fees are collected and how they are used. It’s not a problem collecting the money but what is an issue is the accountability for these fees,” he said.

RFTC’s manager, Bishop Kihangire, said that the federation is one of the strongest in the country, with its members well organised, but he agreed to work further to improve the coop’s governance.

He also urged as many public transporters as possible to join the federation and remain loyal members in order to benefit from its services instead of complaining out of their self-imposed lack of information.