Gov’t should come to the aid of transporters

The issue of which side the steering wheel of your car is located is very important in Rwanda and it also carries financial implications.

The issue of which side the steering wheel of your car is located is very important in Rwanda and it also carries financial implications.

Right-hand drive cars on the local scene cost about half of left-hand drive cars, and ever since importation of the former was banned in 2005, Rwanda has become the most expensive country in the region to own a car.

But the issue is more telling when one analyses the transport industry, and the fact that the majority of long distance trucks plying our routes are foreign registered. The reason is that hiring a foreign registered truck is cheaper than a Rwandan registered one.

Calls have been made to the government to deregulate right-hand drive commercial vehicles so as to operate on a level playing field as Congolese, Ugandan, Tanzanian, Kenyan and even South Sudan registered vehicles that use our highways.

The reasons advanced are very solid; for a truck that plies the Kigali-Mombasa or Kigali-Dar es Salaam routes, it is only in Rwanda that they will drive on the right hand side, the rest of the route (over 90 per cent), they will keep on the left, more suitable for right hand drive cars.

The issue of transport costs to the Indian Ocean is a very serious one. Though it is being addressed through plans to introduce a railway link, it would be better if the government began by liberalising the commercial transport sector so that operators can compete equitably in neighbouring states.

Otherwise, it makes no sense if a right-hand drive Tanzania or Kenyan registered truck can operate in Rwanda when a Rwandan is banned from registering one that will operate the majority of times on East African roads.

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