Rwanda Interlink Transport Company (RITCO) is considering re-evaluating its drivers for skills following a recent spate of accidents by the public transport company buses.
Robert Muhizi, RITCO’s board chair, attributed the recent accidents involving their buses to poor judgement of drivers on the road, adding that the test would give the drivers fresh safe driving skills.
“When someone is driving, there is need to make a clear judgement such as when it is safe to overtake. When a driver makes poor judgement, it’s likely to lead to an accident,” Muhizi told Saturday Times.
RITCO buses have been involved in about four separate accidents since the company launched upcountry operations with new buses in February.
The latest accident occurred on Wednesday, when the driver of Kigali-bound bus from Rubavu with 60 passengers on board lost control, leading to an accident that killed one person and injured 23 others.
On February 17, a RITCO bus swerved off the road after hitting a truck in Karongi District, killing a pupil who was walking along the road.
On July 22, another RITCO bus from Kigali to Nyagatare veered off the road at Rwimiyaga with 60 passengers, injuring more than 20 people.
On September 21, 60 passengers escaped death after another RITCO bus from Kigali to Rusizi lost control in Karongi.
Passengers blame the accidents on speeding.
“One day I boarded a RITCO bus to upcountry but I was terrified by the speed. We escaped an accident twice along the way. From then, I’m afraid of traveling with them,” said Aline Dusabe, from Kicukiro District.
However, Muhizi does not think speeding is one of the reasons as he says all their buses have been installed with speed governors, which limits them to 60 kilometres per hour.
“Unless drivers disconnect them on their own, we have a system to monitor all these irregularities,” he added.
The company employs some of the most experienced drivers who used to work for its predecessor Onatracom.
“The company stands with the families that lost their relatives in these accidents, and those injured. We are doing our best to make our buses the safest, and to meet the target of transporting Rwandans in all parts of the country, in the safest manner, with zero accident,” he said.
RITCO has 120 buses operating in the country, including on rural routes formerly served by ONATRACOM.
Adalbert Kayitare Rukundo, from SATO Rwanda, a company that installs speed governors in commercial vehicles, said while some experienced drivers can tamper with speed governors, its not something easy.
Every commercial vehicle installed with Rwandan speed governor can’t exceed speed of 60 kilometres per hour. However, some new buses come with their own speed governors installed from the factory, a bit different from those of Rwanda.
“For example, RITCO buses come with their own speed governors installed at 80km/h. It’s after being installed with Rwandan ones that the speed limit is reduced to 60km/h maximum,” Rukundo said.
Apart from installing speed governors, they are able to place a GPS tracker into vehicles to enable owners easily monitor them from their office.
Traffic Police spokesperson Emmanuel Kabanda called on all drivers to observe traffic regulations.
He said their investigation shows most accidents in the country were due to violation of traffic regulations.
Kabanda said Traffic Police should “particularly monitor” RITCO buses to make sure they are safe for passengers even when there is no specific problem which has been identified as unique to their buses.