Public transport companies may be required to flex their financial and operational muscles if they are to win tenders to operate under new public transport dispensation.
The new transport system, known as Public Transport Generation 2, starts in 2020 and runs up to 2025.
Without divulging details, Eng. Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the Head of Transport Department at RURA, the regulator, said that operators will be required to make significant investments, mainly in acquiring buses.
“What we require from them is to give us a number of vehicles. We have shown them the zones and the requirements for each zone and what type of vehicles we need,” Katabarwa explained.
“Secondly, they have to show us what staff they have, for example, their experience, trustworthiness, capacity to lead, and experience in Rwanda’s public transport. The companies also have to show us that they have financial systems to do accounting and good management of operations.”
The new system will feature advanced route planning, better vehicle mix, and more strict schedules of service among the reforms.
It will see the use of intelligent service monitoring systems (particularly GPS) to track vehicle activity and performance, among other robust changes like the introduction of Dedicated Bus Lanes – which means dedicating a lane for only public transport vehicles.
According to RURA, the new rules will also see the commercial speed of public transport vans increase in order to make it faster and convenient.
The changes will mean better services, but also it will require more robust efforts from transport operators in order to meet the requirements, the regulator says.
And with this, the new contracts for operators will come at a higher price in the form of investment to buy more buses, hire more personnel, as well as a good financial backing.
Katabarwa said that under the new system, operators for busy routes will be required to have a bus on the waiting station every five minutes (or even less time in very busy areas), as well as respecting the operation time schedules, among others.
On October 16, RURA issued a request for proposals to bus operators, asking them to showcase what they can offer as far as the new system is concerned, and this will determine who will win the tenders going into 2020.
The operators have until mid-December to write to RURA making their offer.
According to Katabarwa, RURA will analyse the proposals from mid-December to the end of January 2020, before announcing the winners to operate the four public transport zones in the city.
Emmanuel Habanabakize, the Managing Director of Kigali Bus Service, said that the requirements are many for them, “but there is more gain when you look at the big picture.”
“Yes, there is what we are required to fulfil, but there are also things that they (RURA) are going to do. For example, dedicating a lane for public transport is going to help passengers,” he told The New Times.
Bishop Kihangire, the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC), said: “There are many requirements, some are technical, others are financial, but what we want is to see that they are in line with the fact that operators need to make profits. The money we use is from banks,” he said.