RCA moves to fix challenges raised by taxi moto operators

Taxi moto operators on the road in Kicukiro District. Over a year ago, they petitioned the Lower House appealing for an inquiry into the bottlenecks to their business operations. Emmanuel Kwizera.

A little over a year since parliament discussed a petition filed by ‘taxi moto’ operators appealing for an inquiry into the bottlenecks to their business operations, Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA) says that some reforms have been implemented while others are in the pipeline to fix the concerns.

The challenges faced by taxi moto operators were first raised in 2016 when members of Ferwacotamu petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, calling for a probe into, among other challenges, corruption, lack of coordination between leaders of cooperatives with their institutions and exploitation by cooperative leaders.

Ferwacotamu is the federation that groups together cooperatives of commercial motorcycle taxi operators across the country.

At the time, the Ministers of Justice and Trade, senior Police Officers and senior management of Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority (RURA) and RCA were summoned to parliament to shed more light on the issues raised in the petition.

On Tuesday this week while addressing members of the Political Affairs and Gender Committee, Prof. Jean Bosco Harelimana, the Director General of RCA, said that most of the issues stemmed from the federation’s “disorganised” leadership.

He said the leadership is being revamped to improve service delivery to its members.

“The cooperatives that exist today are being run by motorcyclists from top to bottom,” he said.

That, he added, is different from how it used to be in the past where they were being led by people who were not part of their profession such as special taxi operators or bus drivers.

Addressing the complaint that had been raised regarding what other members called extortion imposed by their cooperative members who were in charge of security, Harelimana said that this team had been scrapped from security and instead, put in charge of discipline, stripping them of the power to impound taxi motorcycles.

“We are not only working with taxi moto operators but we have included police. With the exception of police, no one is now authorized to impound a ‘taxi moto’. Even the cooperative itself is required to levy disciplinary measures but let business continue as usual,” he said.

MP Venerandah Uwamariya was keen on knowing how RCA carries out auditing practices.

“You may have internal auditors but every time an external audit is done, it gives insight into what issues are there and how to fix,” she said.

MP Henrietta Mukabikino criticised RCA for its inefficiencies in getting closer to the people it is meant to serve.

“There is never a time when RCA approaches its members unless there is serious trouble. What can we do to change that?” she wondered.

In response, Harelimana said that his office was understaffed, pointing out that there were only 65 staff members serving the whole country.

However, he said, they are planning to launch a countrywide tour to listen to people’s challenges.

Public outreach will be improved since the institution is going digital, he added.

“We have issued an Rfw300 million tender that will see all our services go digital and we know that will make a huge impact,” he said. 

In total, RCA is in charge of 8,000 cooperatives. Close to 200 of these are made up of ‘taxi moto’.

As of May 2017, there were 12,525 registered taxi-moto operators and 9,500 motorcycles.

There are 13,114 registered taxi moto members in the countryside and slightly over 11,000 motorcycles.