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As the day breaks to dawn, the laboring engine of the heavy commercial truck, filled with agricultural produce, slows down, entering from the rear gates of Kabeza market, in Kicukiro district, Kigali, parking and chugging as it exudes a dull explosive sound in front of a group of excited fruits, foods and vegetable vendors.
The newly reconstructed dual carriage route along Muhima - Nyabugogo. ( All photos by Joseph Mudingu)
The newly reconstructed dual carriage route along Muhima - Nyabugogo. ( All photos by Joseph Mudingu)

As the day breaks to dawn, the laboring engine of the heavy commercial truck, filled with agricultural produce, slows down, entering from the rear gates of Kabeza market, in Kicukiro district, Kigali, parking and chugging as it exudes a dull explosive sound in front of a group of excited fruits, foods and vegetable vendors.

The 20 foot Fuso truck, fully loaded with produce, has delivered foods from  50km in the Eastern province to Kigali. Its arrival at the market in Kabeza was only the beginning of a busy day for the food vendors as they offloaded their merchandise to start their day at the market.

Twice a week, the lorry brings farm produce to the market. The traders contracted the truck owner to transport their goods from villages because it is cheaper if they collectively use the same truck. 

Kabera Brian, the lorry driver, says he goes far deep in the village off the main road to look for different agricultural products. “I do many trips every week and it is easier for me these days because most of the main roads and the feeder roads have been rehabilitated and are in good condition,” says Kabera.

Kabera is among the many truck drivers that ferry farm products from different parts of the country to Kigali who say that they are happy about the state of roads in Rwanda today.

The transport system in Rwanda centers primarily on the road network. Paved roads lie between the capital, Kigali, and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is also linked by road with other countries in the African Great Lakes, via which the majority of the country’s imports and exports are made.

A large amount of investment in the transport infrastructure has been made by the government since the liberation in1994 genocide, with the support of such development partners such as the European Union, China, Japan and others.

During the period of 2010-2017, the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) has implemented a number of transport infrastructure projects through Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA). This has served to improve domestic interconnectivity and external links to the central and northern corridors.

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Tap and Go technology in commuter buses.

MININFRA activities in the transport sector focused on key areas of national roads namely: upgrading, rehabilitation and maintenance (both paved and unpaved roads) inland infrastructure development and safety.

For the fiscal year 2016/2017 a total of 85 Km of paved roads and 526.4 Km of feeder roads were added, respectively.

Currently, the percentage of National roads (paved and unpaved) in good conditions stands at 71.4%.

In 2012, the percentage of paved and unpaved roads maintained was at 59% with the target for 2016-2016 being 73.2%.

So far 72% has been achieved and just last year, the Government has given priority to increasing paved roads while in this fiscal year (2017/18): 454 km of national unpaved roads will be upgraded and paved and work will continue including the following key Roads like Nyagatare-Rukomo road upgrading project (73 Km), Ngoma Nyanza (Ngoma-Ramiro (57 km) & Kibugabuga-Nyanza (66 km), Huye-Kibeho-Ngoma (66 km) expected to reach 10% percent completion.

In regard to improving Urbanization of cities and Urban Transport, 54 Km of roads will be constructed and rehabilitated in City of Kigali (CoK)

Rwanda has a total of 12,000 km (7,500 mi) of roads, of which 1,000 km (620 mi) are paved.

Also with the new international roads, there has been a big impact on cross-border business. Roads help connect the East African countries and the larger the integration (in terms of the size) the more likely it is to lead to growth since the larger the integration, the larger the market created and so on.

There was remarkable success in the financial year 2016-2017 considering that there was substantial growth in terms of passenger numbers, routes expansion, airport expansion and upgrade.

RwandAir, also Africa’s fastest-growing airline, has expanded its operations to European markets, starting flights to London and Paris, India and Guangzhou in China.

According to officials at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), RwandAir’s expansion and the recent launch of several directs flights to Kigali from European capitals by global airlines will give a much needed boost to tourism

The airline currently flies to 18 destinations, including Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Juba, Douala, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjalo, Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Libreville and Brazzaville.

The airline saw passenger numbers grow from 585,875 of the last financial to 747,761 and the number of destinations were increased to 22 destinations vis-à-vis the target of 25 targeted destinations.

With this increase of airlines and RwandAir’s new destinations, the country is realizing its strategy of becoming a regional hub as more and more visitors are coming by airlines compared with previous years when there were less airlines.

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Passengers in one of the buses in Kigali City Center.

With the increase in numbers of flights, this is helping Rwanda in facilitating regional integration, exchanges of services, trade and business for both Rwandans and foreigners.

According to statistics from MININFRA, the aviation sector in Rwanda is growing significantly as illustrated by the passenger numbers at the Kigali International Airport (KIA); from 294,827 in 2008 and 552,246 in 2012 to 641,817 in 2015. In this fiscal year (2017/18) the passenger number will increase by 1,145,331 while six (6) new destinations will be added totaling to 28 destinations.

Passenger traffic at the KIA is expected to continue growing largely driven by increase in flights by both the national carrier and international airlines. This favorable situation can only be translated into opportunities if KIA capacity to accommodate the projected traffic was growing accordingly. However, the geographical location of KIA does not allow for a sustainable expansion of the airport infrastructure. Therefore, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) decided on one hand to implement expansion activities at the KIA that would only address the short term traffic demand and sustain the traffic growth, and on the other hand to fast-track the development of the New Bugesera International Airport (NBIA) to complement KIA, which is now operating at maximum capacity.

The government of Rwanda called on public transport companies to put in more effort to digitize all transport services in a bid to fast-track a cashless system and it has had an impact on transport in Rwanda.

For very long, bus operators couldn’t properly monitor how many people have actually moved on the bus that day without an automated system and faced a lot of fraud with cash exchanging many hands before getting to the operators

But today with a proper bus fleet management system in place all this has changed creating a customized urban transport system, which in turn makes the Kigali city have faster, more efficient traffic management, improved traffic flow and faster commutes.

This has had a great impact on people in Kigali to the extent that there is a reduction of incidents of commuters having to queue for hours at bus stops or in taxi parks.

Such things hurt not only individual but also national development as a lot of valuable time is wasted by the labour force in traffic.

Similarly, the quest for digitization of Kigali transport has continued with added impetus. So far, less than 50 per cent of the buses that ply city routes have installed WiFi though all buses are expected to have the services.

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