Motorcycle taxi operators are said to be the most unruly sections of Rwandan society. They are brash, undisciplined and the source of chaos on our roads.
But despite all their shortcomings, today they are the most missed lot and many people would rather bear with their madness than miss them on the streets altogether.
Many people depend on the taximotos because of their convenience; one just flags it down, hops on and they are at their destinations in no time. So it is understandable that during this time of social distancing, they were the biggest casualties.
So it is to their relief that they will be back on the road on June 1 and that should be a cause for concern. With over 40,000 taximotos, half of them operating in Kigali, they can be a ticking time bomb during a pandemic.
So it is welcome news that there is a mass testing exercise in the mass transport sector, especially motorcycle riders to be ready for the big day when they return on the roads. But how safe are their passengers?
That is a question that should be giving relevant officials sleepless nights because social distancing is impossible on a motorbike. One thing that passengers should brace themselves for is a spike in prices. If a taximoto operator is expected to be equipped with sanitizers and decontaminating sprays for passengers/ helmets, that extra cost will most likely be transferred to the passenger.
This is the right time for Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and other stakeholders to design a win-win solution for a very vital sector. Its vibrancy and relevance should not come at the expense of passengers’ financial and physical safety.