The Government has called on public transport companies to put in more effort to digitise all transport services in a bid to fast-track a cashless system.
Officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure and that of Information, and Communication Technology, who were yesterday on interactive field visits at different business operators who deliver technology services to the transport sector, said a digitised cashless system would help ensure reliable, cost-effective and sustainable public transport services.
The officials were headed by ICT minister Jean Philibert Nsengimana, together and Jean De Dieu Uwihanganye, the state minister for transport at the Ministry of Infrastructure.
The visit aimed at assessing the performance of various ICT service providers; AC Group, Safemotos, Yegomoto, and Speed Governor/Pascal Technology, and discussed with them connectivity, tracking systems, CCTV uptake into buses and cashless transport systems.
Uwihanganye said different ICT providers already have many initiatives for public transport, and they need some laws and regulations from the Government to help them enhance public transport in general.
“All initiatives we have visited are really promising. For example, AC Group has started exporting their services in other countries. Already one million public commuters in Kigali use Tap&Go smartcards. However, we have to do more to reduce queues of people putting money on their cards,” said Uwihanganye.
He added that automated fare collection system, currently in use in public transport buses in the City of Kigali, have to be extended to inter-cities buses and Tap&Go cards can be used for other different services.
“It’s possible to connect these cards with mobile money or even banks, and people can load money on and use them for the city transport and even in inter-cities transport. Imagine someone who come for a short visit to Kigali or a tourist, he buys a Tap&Go card that becomes meaningless when they leave. But if it is connected to other services, it should be useful for a long time,” said Uwihanganye.
Wireless internet in buses
Wireless internet service in public buses, which has been in disuse for a while, will be regulated in the near future, the minister added.
“We know wireless in buses is no longer there and we are not to focus on the cause of the failure. Today, we are going to agree on the way to restore it very soon to deliver service to passengers who until now pay for it, it is among the main purposes of these visits,” Uwihanganye said.
Nsengimana said digitisation of public transport services is another big step toward the Government’s policy of creating a cashless economy.
“Using cash brings some loss to the country. These Tap&Go cards can be used in the bus, in bars, in markets, to pay everything from bank account, mobile money accounts. It shouldn’t be a problem to pay in case you have money on any account. All these finance companies have cards and it’s possible to work together to make it one,” said Nsengimana.
Patrick Nsenga Buchana, the chief executive of AC Group, said at least one million Rwandans are using Tap&Go cards in public transport in Kigali and they expect to be working with all bus companies within two weeks.
“We want to improve public transport services in partnership with the government. In the near future, we are bringing in new services concerning using these cards even in inter-cities transport,” he said.