Passengers travelling in Coaster minibuses will no longer have to suffer the discomfort of squeezing an extra passenger per row.
Police have given directives that each bus plying the city routes will now have only three seats per row instead of the usual four.
When contacted, Traffic Police commander, Superintendent Robert Niyonshuti, confirmed the new crackdown. He said that all vehicles are supposed to carry passengers according to the number of seats they have.
He further said that there is a campaign to teach the passengers how to maintain their safety, adding that passengers have always been over-packed, which is not healthy.
Niyonshuti said that it was nothing new and that the law has been always been there but people have not been abiding by it.
The first vice president of ATRACO, Issa Ngenze, said that the police had found it necessary for passengers to sit freely and move comfortably.
He cautioned the public that there were still very few vehicles and that passengers should bear with the situation while ATRACO tries to find a solution to the problem.
Coaster drivers have been carrying 35 passengers and paying insurance cover for that number; and they are not happy with the new directive.
Mugabo Asumani, a driver of one such minibus, says that this was a sudden move as they were not notified before. He says that they had bought insurance to transport 35 passengers and that it would not be refunded as they are now required to transport only 24.
He adds that with the rising fuel prices that have more than doubled in a period of only two years, raising the amount needed by the coaster owners will be a hard task.
Another driver Kasimu Habakubaho says that it is not fair to reduce the number of passengers. He says that a coaster van cannot carry only four passengers per row just like a mini van.
He says that the coaster operators should have first been allowed to first use up their insurance they had paid for 35 passengers before implementing of the directive.
Passengers seem to have received the change with mixed reactions, with some enjoying the new comfort, while others wondering whether there won’t be shortage of taxis.