Of late Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has been in the news thanks to the shocking cancellation of Rwandatel’s GSM and 3G licence. It was a sad moment for the telecom industry and the economy in general since hundreds of people will eventually lose their jobs because of this. RURA should still be commended for doing its job in stopping a bad situation from getting worse.
It is also high time RURA did some cleaning up in the transport sector. This sector seems to be more chaotic than ever and it is difficult to know whether it is RURA or ATRACO’s fault.
The influence of ATRACO, the body that brings together public transport providers seems to have diminished over time.
It appears that ATRACO lost its edge the moment some of its top officials got involved in profit making ventures like the ATRACO Express service that later morphed into International Express.
At some point, larger buses commonly referred to as coasters were introduced in Kigali in a bid to replace the smaller and less comfortable minibuses. Of late, the general public has borrowed the term “Nyakatsi” in reference to the remaining small commuter taxis and calling for their eradication just like the real Nyakatsi (grass thatched houses).
The general public clearly detests these smaller taxis and the nickname Nyakatsi epitomises the discomfort that travellers endure while using them instead of the Coasters. Despite their small size, these taxis seat four passengers per row and in case some of the passengers are well endowed with full ‘African’ weight then the other are in for troublesome travel experience.
The words, ample leg room are simply alien to the people who have to use these small taxis and yet a good number of Rwandans are really tall. As if that is not enough, many times when you are seated in these taxis, your knees is just next to a metal and in case of even a slight accident the chances of breaking a bone are so high.
These days, there is a growing transport challenge, especially after work where you find city commuters standing in long lines waiting for taxis at the Rubangura area and in Nyabugogo Taxi Park.
The bigger coasters are supposed to help ease this problem since they can take many passengers than the smaller ones and in a more comfortable and dignified manner.
RURA as the regulator for the transport sector ought to come to our rescue by gradually phasing out the so called “Nyakatsi” taxis. It can for instance cease licensing new small taxis and letting the current ones to be phased out slowly and replaced by the larger more comfortable Coasters.
It has been proven worldwide that the best way to address city congestion during rush hours is by improving the public transport sector. And RURA can achieve this by engineering the death of Nyakatsi taxis in Kigali city.
There is no better time to embark on this especially now that some officials like the Traffic Police Boss, Supt. Vincent Sano, have expressed concern over the increasing number of cars especially in urban areas like Kigali city.
At a later date I will talk about the issue of traffic congestion in detail. For now, I wait for RURA to pull a ‘Rwandatel’ on the Nyakatsi taxis.