Here’s how we can phase out taxi-motos

Editor, RE: “We can plan for our cities without scary words like ‘ban’” (The New Times, September 18). I suggest the following:
Taxi-motos at a stage in Kigali (File)
Taxi-motos at a stage in Kigali (File)

Editor,

RE: “We can plan for our cities without scary words like ‘ban’” (The New Times, September 18).

I suggest the following:

Stop new registrations of any new commercial motorcycle taxis. This will stop the explosive growth of taxi-motos on Kigali roads, and ease the pressure on Kigali’s worsening traffic density. It is unreasonable to expect our esteemed traffic police to do a great job when the City allows our roads to be clogged by wave upon wave upon wave of reckless taxi-moto drivers who completely ignore all the best efforts of the police.

So, after putting an end to any further registrations of taxi-motos, increase drastically the taxes levied against companies directly associated with this business. The increase in tax revenue should go into a Ministry of Health insurance fund that aims to assist the neediest of taxi-moto accident victims.

Now, as I suggested, “phase-out”. That means, in X number of years let the number of taxi-motos on our roads rapidly approach zero. To achieve this, however, Kigali needs a comprehensive bus transport network. As it stands now, our bus network does not serve the city’s population well, at all.

To put it mildly, the bus network right now is a failure. We can’t be surprised at the surge in taxi-motos, when we look at the old story that is the Kigali bus transport network. I have said this before, and I will say it again: deploy someone from RURA or the City at each significant bus stop and enforce a tight bus schedule. The issue is not so much one of a lack of dedicated bus lanes.

When one wants to phase out moto-taxis, the obvious problem is alternative jobs. Safer alternative jobs. One of the options can be the above-mentioned jobs of enforcing bus schedules at bus stops. However, this is just a fraction of those who will be needing jobs as the phase-out progresses, and the City will need to engage both the public and private sectors to find creative and sustainable solutions to this employment problem. I think it makes sense to want to find safer, healthier and more lucrative employment for moto-taxi drivers.

Sadly, those who are against this phasing out are not really interested in the welfare of taxi-moto riders, regardless of what the protesters claim. Their true issue is the convenience afforded them by the use of this highly dangerous form of transport.

Another option is to avail TVET training for those who turn in their taxi-motos for a safer job. If you can conduct a survey on moto-riders to gather data on their educational background, income etc, it will help with planning of alternative employment. In that regard, a significant tax break for any former taxi-moto rider who starts a TVET business will serve as an added incentive to leave the taxi-moto life behind.

Dayo Ntwari

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