The City of Kigali on Monday awarded Kigali Bus Service (KBS), Royal Express Ltd and Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC) a five-year contract to operate public transport in the capital.
In the open competitive bidding, Gasabo Express and Volcano Express lost after the vetting team considered the four major criteria; adequacy of administrative documents, management plan, quality of proposed services and the roll-out plan.
[SEE ALSO Three firms win Kigali public transport tender]
Like the losers in the bid, the rest of the companies/individuals in public transport business are left with no option, but to seek sub-contracts with the winning firms, who might not have the logistics to satisfy public transport needs in the city, especially during peak hours.
The other alternative for the other firms that lost out on the lucrative deal will be reverting to upcountry routes.
“We will let the three companies discuss with other transporters. We will only intervene where any problem will arise and if our intervention is required,” Mayor Fidele Ndayisaba said during the announcement of the winners.
The mayor said on one hand the public has been complaining that buses do not drop them at agreed destinations, or sometimes they just park cars while passengers are stranded on the road. Others complained about misconduct of some conductors (conveyeurs).
“We want it to be a credible business where an investor can go to a bank and say I have a business, give me a loan which I will pay back,” said Ndayisaba.
Passengers, drivers speak out
The public has questioned how the new system will be implemented. Drivers and commuter owners, the most concerned stakeholders, have also expressed reservations on how the bidding was conducted.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a public commuter driver said: “How come they are setting boundaries for us while the Constitution allows us to operate or settle wherever we want in our country? It is killing competition and favouring companies with big means, while ignoring small companies and individuals.”
In a meeting recently, Ndayisaba said transport business is dictated by financial capacity. He, however, added that government has set mechanisms to increase citizen’s capacity, like in loans with Business Development Fund to make substantial investments in sectors such as transport.
Regis Gatarayiha, the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority director-general, backed the mayor, saying in transport even monopoly in service delivery can be a good option, because it is easy to enforce accountability.
Despite the assurances by the officials, the drivers remain pessimistic.
“How are they going to manage when we collectively failed to address the issue of pubic transport in the city? If they have money, let them buy more buses and leave us alone. I can’t be satisfied with a sub-contract,” said Jean Damascène Mugenzi, who owns a mini-bus.
City statistics estimate a traffic of 200,000 passengers per day, with 40 buses, 250 (mini buses 25-30 seaters) and 800 for the 18 seaters.
There is still a gap of an estimated 600 mini-buses carrying 25-30 passengers and 150 buses, according to City officials.
“We didn’t consider the number of vehicles every firm has, but the arrangement through which they will acquire the cars to service their designated routes,” said Jean Claude Rurangwa, the in-charge of public transport and safety management in the City of Kigali.
“For example RFTC showed us a contract with Akagera Motors where they agreed to give them 200 mini-buses (25-30 seaters) if they won the tender,” he added.
Charles Ngarambe, the executive chair of KBS, told this paper that, currently, they have 70 vehicles, including 40 buses and 30 mini-buses. A plan is to have a fleet of 100 cars by September and to increase them to 140 to satisfy their zone within three months.
Highlights of the contract
The contract requires the buses to operate daily from 5am to 11pm, with a spacing of five minutes between buses in the peak hours and 15 minutes in off-peak hours at the bus stops.
On feeder roads and inter-zonal roads, the spacing will be 15 minutes in peak hours and 30 minutes during off-peak hours.
However, the contract provides for a steering committee and a six-person team comprising officials from Traffic Police, the City of Kigali and Rura to evaluate, on daily basis, the implementation of the city transport system.
“Based on such evaluation mechanism, a company might lose a contract if they do not comply with terms,” Rurangwa said.
Set Nkurunziza, a passenger, says the move will make it easy for passengers to get means, but suggests that the process to lodge complaints should be made easy because despite such mechanism being in place, there is no clear mechanism on how one can complain and get swift feedback.