Service card for public transport drivers draws mixed feelings

Public transport drivers have expressed mixed feelings over government plan to introduce service cards designed to track their traffic record.
Passengers queue at a bus stop in Masaka. (File)
Passengers queue at a bus stop in Masaka. (File)

Public transport drivers have expressed mixed feelings over government plan to introduce service cards designed to track their traffic record.

The cards, expected to be introduced in three months, are part of efforts to curb traffic offences.

The move was announced by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (Rura) during a town hall meeting on public transport in Kigali on Sunday.

Patrick Nyirishema, the director-general of Rura, said the card will keep track of drivers’ behaviour on the road, which will help them to make decisions on errant motorists.

“The cardholder will have a file in Rura where all committed offences will be recorded. The records will inform decisions to be taken against the holder,” Nyirishema said, adding that excessive breach of road  safety regulations would lead to a driver’s ban from public transportation.

During the meeting, the audience raised concerns about public transport in Kigali.

David Hategekimana of Kicukiro cited long wait at the bus stop and old vehicles among the challenges faced by passengers in Kigali.

Some routes have old vehicles, he said, citing Kimironko-Nyabugogo route yet Kimironko Town route has new buses.

Sometimes passengers spend long at the bus stop yet on some routes, buses are moving empty, he added.

For instance, Hategekimana, said from Kicukiro centre, evening buses to Nyabarongo go empty yet it’s hard to get a bus to Nyanza in the same direction, adding that authorities should consider re-routing some of the buses based on passenger traffic.

The other concern raised by the audience was conductors switching passengers along the way and lack of hygiene in some buses.

Fidèle Ndayisaba, the mayor of the City of Kigali, said drivers are not allowed to stay more than two minutes at a bus stop.

“A bus can stop to pick or drop a passenger but it is not allowed to spend more than two minutes,” he said.

Charles Ngarambe, the managing director of Kigali Bus Services (KBS), said passengers should report bad conduct of drivers in order to help the company provide quality services.

“It is regrettable that some of our drivers fail to provide quality services to our customers. But we promise to address the concerns. Passengers should report bad conduct using the contacts displayed inside every bus to help us know our drivers’ conduct,” he said.

On traffic jams, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the state minister for transport, advised the public to use secondary roads instead of relying on the main roads only.

“For every direction, there is a secondary road that can take people to their destination without using the main road. We construct those secondary roads to reduce traffic jams on the main roads,” the minister said.

 Besides, Ndayisaba said, a study is being conducted to find ways of easing traffic at major junctions, including Gishushu, Giporoso, Sonatube, Nyabugogo and Masoro.

Currently, there are three transport companies in public transport in Kigali; KBS, Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative and Royal Express.

The companies carry between 500,000 and 600,000 passengers daily.

Motorists react

Siraji Muhire, a Kigali commuter taxi driver, said the card will help to improve discipline among drivers.

“Some of us do not behave well. Since the card will help to record our behaviors on the road, I am convinced that drivers will have to behave, lest they get expelled from public transport,” Muhire said.

Jean Claude Manirakiza, who plies Nyabugogo-Kagugu route, also said the behaviour kit will call rogue drivers to order.

“Drivers will behave well fearing to be reported. It is a good initiative to improve our service delivery,” said Manirakiza.

Hakim Nshimiyimana said the card will check cases of drivers giving away vehicles to part-time drivers who he said are not mindful of the credibility of the company.

However, Rajab Gashugi did not welcome the move, saying tracking their offences is aimed at getting them out of public transport.

 “We all break traffic rules at some point. I think there is no need to record everything since the law provides sanctions for each offence. They can even make stringent laws but it is not good to dismiss someone,” Gashugi said.

For Gervis Twine, the card should serve to identify the driver but not to track conduct.