There is need to set up a committee to look into issues raised by ‘taxi-moto’ operators; chief among them being the lack of regulatory laws and exploitation by their cooperatives, lawmakers heard on Wednesday.
Members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security were discussing grievances in a petition addressed to parliament by the taxi-moto operators.
The long list of issues includes weekly and monthly dues; something that the taxi-moto operators said was a burden. So far, besides taxes, the operators are expected to part with Rwf5000 monthly which the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) says is meant to help the office in its day today activities but also as shares for the payer for developmental activities.
The motorcyclists also complained of delays in getting licenses even after paying money to cooperatives which lands them in trouble with police.
They also wanted Members of Parliament to look into alleged harassment in the association where those in charge of security let impersonators to extort money from them or even sometimes confiscate their motorcycles.
Appearing before the commission, the Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Affairs; François Kanimba said that the problems faced by taxi-moto operators were many and interconnected placing blame on unclear processes.
“Before you join this work, you are required to be a member of a cooperative. This was decided based on day today working agreement amongst different government institutions that have ‘taxi moto’ in their responsibilities but there is no clear law that regulates the profession and as a result, here we are,” he said.
Kanimba pointed out that as a result, many cooperatives take advantage of the lack of proper regulation and as a result; there have been issues of mismanagement. He said that Rwanda Utilities Regulation Agency (RURA)’s problem was to trust an organisation without sufficient capacity to monitor and control operations to execute its duties.
“The root of all this particularly stems from how licenses to do this work are issued by RURA because cooperatives are the ones that apply for the authorisation. This means that RURA is giving out authorisation to people it doesn’t even know. There should be laws and the cooperatives must have accreditation to make sure that they have capacity,” he said.
The Minister for Justice; Johnston Busingye also blamed the issues on lack of proper organization, saying that no one had planned for how big and fast the industry would grow.
“We need to give this the special attention it needs and if need be, set up a commission to do comparisons from the rest of the world and then use the findings to revise the laws as needed. Let all concerned come to the table and remove these contradictions that seem to be taking this business backwards,” he said.
The Managing Director Rwanda Cooperative Agency, Apollo Munanura admitted that there are abundant issues affecting taxi motos but they were being addressed gradually.
“Most of their issues stem from their leadership and if we could put up a streamlined framework to guide them on how to deliver, this would make things easier for everyone. We are working jointly with RURA and Police to fix most of them and we are auditing each cooperative, and we hope that this audit, which will end in June, will give us a picture of our next step,” he said.
Jeanne d’Arc Nyinawase said that there was confusion when it came to how guidelines are followed since beside the City of Kigali which has its own in place, there were many different others.
MP Justine Mukobwa wondered why RCA had rejected recommendations from the Parliament and other stakeholders which requested that some staff are relieved of their duties because of gross misconduct.
The head of Traffic Police George Rumanzi says that in Kigali alone, there are 12,525 registered taxi-moto operators and 9,500 motorcycles. There are 13,114 registered taxi moto members upcountry, and slightly over 11,000 motorcycles.
He said that there was need to find sustainable ways to fix issues because confiscation and fines were not enough.