RFTC warned over drivers' grievances

The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) has cautioned Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC) against what it described as ‘unacceptable’ treatment of its drivers.
Passengers board an omnibus at Kimihurura bus station. T. Kisambira.
Passengers board an omnibus at Kimihurura bus station. T. Kisambira.

The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) has cautioned Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC) against what it described as ‘unacceptable’ treatment of its drivers.

The State Minister in charge of Transport at MININFRA, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, said they received complaints from unidentified drivers accusing RFTC of unfair treatment.

Drivers said some don’t have contracts while others have contracts which they have no access to since signing them, according to Uwihanganye.

“They said their contracts were confiscated by the employer and that if one cannot get 800 passengers per day his salary is cut,” he said.

“Even when it comes to food allowances, they say the cooperative gives them Rwf3,500 or Rwf4,000 each instead of Rwf5,000 as stipulated in their contracts, this is also unfair,” he added.

Uwihanganye was on Thursday speaking at a consultative meeting on curbing road carnage attended by different government bodies and transport cooperatives and companies, at Police Headquarters in Kigali.

He emphasised that he was saddened by the indecent treatment of RFTC drivers, adding that there is no way one can be denied their work contracts after they had signed them.

Regarding deducting of drivers’ salaries following failure to get a minimum of 800 passengers a day, Uwihanganye said it is unacceptable as it puts a driver under a lot of pressure.

Drivers have been delaying on bus stops until they get required number of passengers, raising questions about the whole transport system since people have to queue up for so long waiting for buses.

The minister also said that “some other drivers resort to jamming speed governors to be able to cover more routes and carry as many passengers as possible in a day, encouraging over-speeding, which endangers passengers’ lives” .

“Drivers said they don’t get their full monthly pay even when they haven’t done anything wrong, that is intolerable,” Uwihanganye added, addressing RFTC deputy chairman.

RFTC denies allegations

While the state minister said he believes drivers’ claims were accurate, RFTC’s deputy chairman Alphonse Gahongayire denied the allegations, terming them as baseless.

“They all have signed the contracts and we pay them their full salaries, except when one has issued a traffic ticket by the police, in that case we pay the fines and deduct the amount from his salary,” he said.

However, the state minister seemed not convinced with the explanations, saying he personally talked to 10 drivers and they all confirmed what is in an unsigned letter that he received.

“I know some drivers are complicated and can even lie, but those complaints were confirmed by 10 drivers I spoke to,” he said.

“They said they didn’t know about the letter, but when I told them about its content they all said it’s true, and they have been living that life for years,” he said.

Uwihanganye said he sent the letter to RURA (Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority) in order for it to take action for the betterment of the transport sector.

According to statistics shared at the meeting by the police, 180 people died in road accidents from January to September 2017, motorcycles dominating with 117 (60%).

Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety, George Rumanzi, attributed fatal accidents to “total collapse of motorcycle cooperative leadership” and “lack of background check and supervision for drivers.” He also cited drivers’ fatigue, among other causes.

IGP Emmanuel Gasana said Police and City of Kigali are working on a joint mechanism to find a place where confiscated vehicles will be kept, and owners will have to pay companies that will keep them.

This initiative came after owners failed to pick their vehicles.

Meanwhile, CP Rumanzi said speed governors reduced road accidents by 65% since their introduction despite the fact that some drivers manipulate them.

Regarding motorcycle accidents, some of recommendations by police are “reorganising motorcycle cooperatives” and “installing GPS technology” in speed governors so that every motorcycle is traceable, where it is located and what it is doing.

Officials said that will be implemented within a 2 month period.