GICUMBI—The once-isolated and remote trading centres far from the capital, in upcountry parts of Rwanda, are now developing at a faster rate because of easy transport offered by ONATRACOM Bus company.
Walking past Byumba taxi park in the early morning hours, one is able to notice a group of anxious faces from deep in the villages comprising of old women, men and children seated at the taxi-park as they compromise with the biting cold.
I later notice that the group is waiting for ONATRACOM Bus from Kigali via Rwesero, Rutare and Byumba on its final destination to Base in Rulindo district, which is the largest market in the heart of Northern Province.
ONATRACOM buses are sometimes the only means of transport in the rural areas, where the roads have no tarmac.
As the bus approaches on its way from Muhura to Nyagatare via Byumba town, the anxious faces of Byumba town motorcyclists and bicycle riders suddenly beam with excitement as they surround the bus to load Irish potatoes, eggs and chicken from Ruhengeri.
Without wasting time, the town milk and ghee traders board the bus carrying empty jerry cans on their way to Rutare and Ngarama trading centers.
At this time of the rain season, one is able distinguish ONATRACOM upcountry buses from those that operate between main urban towns that are linked with tarmac roads.
The upcountry buses are doted with different colors resulting from the mud on the rural roads, which have no tarmac and are characterized by pot holes and poor drainage systems.
Umuganda community work has enabled ONATRACOM buses to operate easily within village trading centres. The communities in the rural areas turn up for Umuganda in large numbers to fill up all pot holes on the roads, in order to enable vehicles to move easily.
There is a need however for more private companies to invest in the upcountry transport business to speed up development in the rural areas, which are the main source of the foodstuffs supplied to Kigali city and other urban areas.