Have you ever been on a queue in front of a bank teller or an MTN attendant? Maybe you were trying to pay some taxes or bills, get some cash or make a Western Union money transfer. That is where you encounter the Rwandan queue! It starts as a straight line.
However, instead of being FIFO (first-in-first-out), it tends to be LIFO (last-in-first-out) as a bunch of people cut in front of you with great authority – maybe they know the teller or the supervisor or they are just not interested in your feelings – and tend to their business while ignoring the time you just spent on that Rwandan queue.
This is already difficult to tolerate, however it is not the worst: in front of the teller/attendant there is not just one person; as soon as it is your turn, four or five people crowd you out, looking at your transaction, reading your documents and sharing in what you are telling the teller and what he is telling you about your account.
It all seems very normal and nobody seems to mind. But I do mind, don’t you?
When you reach the window, very often the teller is busy talking to her nanny about what to feed Junior or getting a hair appointment at a “saloon” nearby and then you wait several minutes while all these important transactions are being done!
For those who do not know, “saloon” seems to be a common word for a hair salon. Many Rwandan Civil Servants are not aware that they are servants of the Public!
The solution many people are using is to pay a “commissioner” to wait in line on their behalf and be paid for it: it is a new job description that seems to exist only in Rwandan job classification.
In many of these organizations, there are security guards with guns and they are standing or sitting near the lines. Making sure the lines are functioning properly is not in their job description.
I would like to suggest that banks, MTN, Rwandatel, RRA and all these organizations that serve a great number of people try to use their security guards to regulate the waiting lines and minimize the time wasted by their customers standing in lines.
There should be at least one meter between the person being served at the window and the next in line; the line should be orderly and use a FIFO model – first in first out; tellers should be monitored and prevented from serving their friends first; if there is a need to respect some VIPs, they should be directed to a special window for VIPs; everybody should be given the same attention and courtesy; a great respect for customers/citizens’ time should be an important consideration in performance review of personnel serving the public.
This is where capacity building should bring some overdue and highly visible results.
For positive feedback and any criticism, I can be reached at email@example.com