Upcountry transport coops fleecing car owners, MPs say

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade has asked the government to start fixing the amount of money that public transport operators from upcountry pay to their cooperatives.

The committee tasked the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the institutions responsible for regulating public transport to set the cost structure within less than a year.

In addition, the committee resolved that government expedites the law and policy regulating public transporters countrywide.

The request by parliament stems from a petition filed last year by the Rubavu-based transport operators that was presented to the plenary on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.

The car owners who are grouped under a cooperative called Rubavu Transport Cooperative said they were being charged higher service fees, thus hurting their margins and threatening their ability to remain in business.

The monthly fees, which was in 2018 doubled from Rwf150,000 to Rwf300,000, is meant to cater for parking, the security of vehicles, and the operations of the cooperative among other costs.   

The cooperative is affiliated to Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC).

MP Théogène Munyangeyo, the Committee Chairperson, tasked the concerned institutions to address the matter and also order the cooperative to refund its members.

“We will follow up to ensure that members are refunded their money. But, we think that the long-term solution is to enact (a transport) law,” he said, adding that setting up local administrative entities’ to monitor the activities of transport cooperative was also important.

MP Albert Ruhakana said: “Gradually, the service fees increased without justification for the increment. It has been realised that the cooperative members were unfairly treated.”

As a result, he added, the number of its members reduced from 118 members (when) to 31 currently and that only 15 of them own cars.

MP Gloriose Uwanyirigira said that transport operators who petitioned parliament were overwhelmed by the cost of operating their business.

“There is a need to know what benefits the cooperative members get from the fee they pay,” she said.

MP Munyangeyo said that the committee realised that the issue might not be in the Rubavu District alone, hence again tasking Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) to inspect other cooperatives countrywide to find out if similar cases exist.

“There is a need to put in place an ICT-based system for public transport businesses to improve service delivery,” Munyangeyo said.

Parliamentarians advised RFTC to always engage its members as well as communicate to them before changing prices.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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