Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has initiated an exercise to install GPS devices on all taxi motos to prevent irresponsible riding, in the quest to reduce road carnage attributed to these motorcycles.
According to police statistics, about 18.5 per cent of the 162 road fatalities registered between August and October this year were attributed to motorcyclists.
They also account for the majority of the 254 serious injuries recorded over the same period. There are over 30,000 commercial motorcyclists in Rwanda.
Speaking to The New Times, Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the Head of Transport Regulation Department at RURA, said that with the new devices, motorcyclists will be closely monitored to check irresponsible riding, as this is the main cause of accidents.
“This technology will definitely have an impact as we are able to monitor each movement and illegal behaviours of motorcyclists, it very easy to find the wrongdoer since we will have full information on them,” he said.
According to the Federation of Taxi Moto Operators, currently, more than 2,000 commercial motorcycles in the City of Kigali are fitted with the GPS device.
Katabarwa said that the device will go a long way in changing the mentality of riders saying that the realisation that someone somewhere is monitoring them will ensure they exercise caution whenever they are on roads.
The federation officials also said that the device will help in tracking the motorbikes in case of theft.
“Rwanda is an ICT-ambitious country, because ICT speeds up everything, and increases productivity,” Katabarwa said, adding that taxi motos should not be left behind.
He added: “We will now be able to handle cases such as hit and run, theft of pedestrians’ possessions that is done in connivance with some riders, which is why we are collaborating with various partners to ensure all motorcycles are fitted with the device.”
The Head of Transport Department revealed that companies that have the ability to install the same technology in cars have been licensed to install it on motorcycles.
“The activity started in the city, but is expected to spread all over the country. But because we have a huge number of motorcycles, we cannot provide deadlines but are pushing to finish it as soon as possible,” said Katabarwa.
According to Tony Kuramba, the RURA spokesperson, the purpose was to move with the times and that the system will not only serve the tracking purpose but also help passengers determine the distance covered to arrive at the fare charged.
“It will also be easier for a customer to find an available taxi moto nearby and be able to call it for pick up,” Kuramba said.
Gilbert Twagirumukiza, a technician with Pascal Technology, one of the firms that are installing the devices on commercial motorcycles, saiid so far they have installed around 300 GPS devices on taxi motos.
He explained that whatever happens to the vehicle or motorbike, the company gets the message first, the moto is automatically stopped, and the owner is informed.
“If you set that your motorcycles will only be operating in Kigali, it will immediately stop in the event that your taxi moto rider goes beyond Kigali,” he said.
“The motorcycle owner needs GPS, motorcyclists’ cooperatives need it, and so do the regulators,” he concluded.
Albert Ntwari, Customer Care and Data Manager at Rwanda Federation of Taxi Moto Operators (Ferwacotamo), said that it is easier for members to monitor the motorcycles and it will help them enforce discipline among their riders.
Ntwari said that they are making efforts to encourage members to bring their motos to have them fitted with the devices.
“Now what we do, we are asking those who have already used the gadgets, to testify to their colleagues about the importance of that technology, as a way of encouraging them,” he said.
“Though each company sets its own price for GPS services in the moto, the price is about Rwf60,000, per motorcycle,” Ntwari said.
During this festive season, Ntwari urged members to provide quality service and be safe.
“They need to start the new year safe, so they should not imperil their own lives and other people’s lives trying to make more money from the increased number of passengers,” he added.