KIGALI - Commuter transport charges around the country have, for the second time, gone up within the last four months.
According to the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA), a kilometre is now set at Rwf 20 up from Rwf 19. This means that a passenger commuting from the city centre to the Kimironko suburb of Kigali will have to pay Rwf 200 up from Rwf 190.
The new fare structure takes effect Friday this week.
Regis Gatariyiha, the Director of RURA, attributed the rise to persistent increase of petroleum products.
“The instabilities in Libya and the Middle East have resulted in persistent increase in fuel prices and they have in turn affected the profitability of the transport operators,” Gatariyiha said in an interview.
He explained that the regulatory body sought to strike a balance between the operators and commuters.
“Complaints were too many from the transport operators about their losses,” says Gatarayiha, adding that some operators have been making loses to the tune of Rwf 20 million per month.
He noted that the last time they increased the fares; they had made it clear that if the fuel prices went beyond the Rwf 1,000 per litre mark, the fares would rise to avoid transporters from abandoning the business, which would create more problems.
The last time transport fares went up, a litre of fuel cost Rwf 965 but has since risen to Rwf 1,060.
Speaking to The New Times, a regular commuter, Jane Uwamariya, said that the increase would have a big impact on her since she makes numerous journeys between Kigali and Nyagatare.
“Something has to be done to contain this situation because if it gets beyond this, we will not afford (the fare). We have been paying Rwf 2,500 to Nyagatare, and now it will go up to Rwf 3200,” said Uwamariya, as she waited to board a taxi at Kigali’s Remera Taxi Park.
Gatarayiha, however, allayed such fears, saying the government is doing everything possible to contain the situation.
He mentioned the proposed fuel subsidy in the budget as one of such measures and promised stability in the transport sector.
The Minister of Finance, while reading the budget last week, said that the government would forego taxes worth Rwf 100 on a litre of fuel as a way of containing fuel pump prices.
Another commuter, Janvier Karemera, said that the hike in fares did not correspond with the services the operators offer.
“It would be fine to pay the money, but it becomes painful when during peak hours, taxi operators decide to park their vehicles causing a shortage,” said Karemera, adding that something must be done to counter that kind of behaviour.
Responding to the concern, Rodrigue Nizeyimana, a taxi driver who plies the Remera-City Centre route, said that they do this purely on profitability grounds.
“Some routes like those in residential areas lead to losses. When you take commuters in the evening, the taxi usually gets back empty and many drivers opt to park at such hours,” Nizeyimana said.
He said that if the passengers could be in position to pay a reasonable amount of money, they would not feel the loss even if the taxis returned empty.