Major public transporter expands into real estate devt, microfinance after rebranding

The woes that have for long plagued the public transport sector could soon be history following the restructuring and rebranding of one of the key public transport providers in the country.

The woes that have for long plagued the public transport sector could soon be history following the restructuring and rebranding of one of the key public transport providers in the country.

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Col Ludovic Twahirwa Dodo: “We are optimistic that the restructuring and expansion will help reduce some of the grievances in public transport sector.”

The Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC) streamlined its operations structure and rebranded to Jali Holding Limited, and also created new subsidiaries dealing in construction and finance.

The new company is now composed of three components, namely Jali to manage transport, Real Estate Limited for construction and management of bus terminals, and the third entity a microfinance company that will be dealing in transport sector funding, according to officials.

Speaking to Business Times after the launch and approval of new leaders of the group and its subsidiaries last week, the chairman of Jali Holding, Col Ludovic Twahirwa Dodo, was optimistic the restructuring and expansion would reduce grievances in public transport sector, adding that Rwf58 billion had already been approved for its operations in the coming year.

“Jali Holding will be coordinating the component of former RFTC dealing with public transport, while Real Estate Limited is focusing on construction and management of bus terminals and the microfinance institution will be the lending arm of the group to funding for all these operations,” he said.

“We are going to buy 48 high-capacity buses in January and an additional 200 coaster buses to reduce the time spent by commuters waiting for buses.”

The firm presently has 175 coaster buses. The official believes that the move (rebranding and expansion) will go a long way in solving challenges faced public transport users in Kigali and also help improve the welfare of drivers and other sector players.

The firm is one of the three public transport service providers in Kigali. Others are Kigali Bus Service (KBS) and Royal Express.

Looking to the future

Twahirwa said the development is forward looking and seeks to prepare and position the firm for the future and also strengthen its position as a key player in the public transport industry.

He said the group presently boasts of Rwf13 billion in total equity recorded over the past six years of operation, up from Rwf790 million in 2011. It targets to increase this to Rwf100 billion in next five years, under the rebranded company.

The official said the expansion was also necessitated by the growth in revenue for the six-year-old firm that had hitherto been solely engaged in public transport service provision across the country. The firm (former RFTC) started operations in November 2011.

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Passengers wait for buses at bus terminal in the city centre. Most of the city routes are operated by buses owned by members of former RFTC. / File

He said the transporter has already invested Rwf12 billion in construction of bus terminals countrywide, adding that it was looking to undertake Rwf45 billion renovation works on the Nyabugogo bus terminal in Kigali.

“The investment and returns have increased and, therefore, we could not manage billions of money when we are still operating as just cooperative. As a company with diversified services, it will be easier for us to manage our funds and operations,” he explained.

Taking over RITCO

The new company will also soon start managing Rwanda Interlink Transport Company (RITCO), a public-private-owned transporter that acquired 48 per cent shareholding in Onatracom, a government bus company.

The firm, in which government has a 52 per cent stake, is mainly for up-country travel.

“We are progressing with discussions on running some companies whose management has not been doing well to improve transport services and provide proper financial management,” the official noted.

Improving drivers’ welfare

Twahirwa said more profitable projects will be designed to ensure continued development of the company, adding that this would benefit members and workers.

The chairman said a new initiative is going to be unveiled where low-cost houses in every district will be built and drivers pay for them in installments.

“The microfinance will provide funding to transport cooperatives which we (Jali) will guarantee. We will also provide our drivers affordable loans to start income-generating activities so as to widen their income streams and be able to improve their living standards,” Twahirwa said.

He advised cooperatives to design their own business project, such as selling of spare parts, tyres, or collecting parking fees which the mother firm will support by providing funding.

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