The standoff between the Commuter Taxi Association (Atraco) and Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) has deepened with the former accusing the latter of being a stumbling block in its daily operations.
The transporters claim that the recent strike by over 130 employees of International Express, an Atraco subsidiary over unpaid salaries, was engineered by the regulator.
Speaking to the New Times yesterday, Atraco vice president, Issa Ngeze, attributed their inability to pay employees to the fact that RURA refused to license the operations of International Express.
“We purchased these vehicles using bank loans. We had to seek an operational license from RURA to begin our operations, but we were denied the license with no clear explanation,” Ngeze said.
“There is no way we could get money to remunerate our employees yet even the bank is counting on these operations to have the loan serviced”.
The agency has to pay Rwf 11million every month to service the loans acquired from Fina Bank and Access Bank. According to Ngeze, the loans have to be paid off within a period of three years.
The angry employees, who included cashiers, drivers, touts and cleaners, had earlier convened at the company's parking yard. They told The New Times that they could no longer afford to support their families.
Ngeze further added that Atraco is pondering dragging RURA to court if nothing is done to issue them a license.
He said over 10 vehicles of the 46 they were impounded by police last month for lacking licenses, affecting their income.
According to Atraco management, RURA refused to give International Express a license because the latter was started as an association by senior administrators of Atraco which operates the same business.
International express is headed by Atraco president, Ludovic Twahirwa, Ngeze and Francois Nsengiyumva, who is also an Atraco top manager.
When contacted, the Director General of Rura, Diogene Mudenge, said Atraco failed to meet the regulations.
“International express is working without our authorization,” Mudenge said.
“If they feel they are being failed by RURA, they can always go ahead and petition courts of law.”