Passenger safety was the buzzword at the just-concluded public transport awards in Kigali. The annual Best Public Transport Operators’ Awards recognise top public transport performers serving in the city, as well as taxicabs, and those plying highways.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Kigali, the Minister for Infrastructure, James Musoni, underlined the need to adhere to traffic and other regulations, challenging public transport firms in the country to prioritise passenger safety and comfort.
“Public transport has registered tremendous improvement, but a lot still needs to be done to move it to the next level. You should, therefore, recommit to the service you deliver, especially to passenger safety and comfort,” Musoni said on Tuesday.
The awards, organised by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), saw City Centre Transport Co-operative, Omega Car Express and Nyabugogo Taxicab Co-operative emerge as the best public transport performers in the country. RURA awarded the three firms certificates of merit for their exemplary service, challenging other transport companies to learn from their best practices.
Patrick Nyirishema, the RURA director-general, said the ranking was in three categories of public transport firms - national transporters (on highways), those operating in the City of Kigali, and taxicabs.
He said City Centre Transport Co-operative, which operates the Downtown-Nyamirambo route scored 74.5 per cent, Omega Car Express, which operates the Kigali-Rusizi route got 91.3 per cent, while Nyabugogo Taxicab Co-operative (COTAVONYA) emerged the best in taxicabs category, scoring 94.4 per cent. Horizon Express topped in customer service followed by Airport Taxicabs Co-operative, while Nyabugogo-Remera Co-operative was third.
Royal Express and Nyabugogo-Remera Co-operative were the first and second runners-up, respectively, in Kigali. Kigali Coach and Volcano Express (highway transport) ranked the first and second runners-up, respectively. Airport Taxicab Co-operative and Rusizi’s COCATAVORU were the taxicabs co-operatives first and second runners-up, respectively.
Nyirishema said the ranking considered four indicators - passenger safety and comfort, compliance with laws and regulations, customer care, and firm management.
A joint team of judges from RURA, Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Standards Bureau, Private Sector Federation and Consumers Rights Association (Adecor), examined operations of all public transport firms to come out with the top three.
“The awards aim at motivating public transport operators to do better... This practice has led to significant improvement in public transport in the last three years, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. He noted that the improvement registered over the years will attract investment into public transport service.
The co-ordinator of City Centre Transport Co-operative, Col. (rtd) Dodo Twahirwa, who doubles as the chairman of Rwanda Federation of Transport Co-operatives, lauded the government for its unwavering support to public transporters. He attributed his co-operative’s strong performance to promotion of ethic conduct and enabling public transport policies in the country.
Thacien Hakizimana, the managing director of Omega Car Express, which has won the awards for the last two editions, attributed the feat to commitment to better service delivery and regular training for employees.
“We like this profession and we work hard to keep employees focused on customer service, and comply with the sectors and other regulations,” he said.