Kigali short of 200 public buses

City public transport still needs about 200 more buses to cater for surging urban population, an official said yesterday, days after the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (Rura) and the City of Kigali launched a new public transport system.
City commuters queue for buses during peak hours yesterday. The New Times/T. Kisambira
City commuters queue for buses during peak hours yesterday. The New Times/T. Kisambira

City public transport still needs about 200 more buses to cater for surging urban population, an official said yesterday, days after the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (Rura) and the City of Kigali launched a new public transport system.

Since last week, Rwanda Federation for Transport Cooperatives (RFTC), Kigali Bus Service (KBS) and Royal Express are the authorised public transport providers to conduct public transport in five designated zones, identified by the City. The firms won a five-year tender.

With the exception of RFTC that serves two zones, the other two firms have a zone each. The fifth zone (downtown Kigali) is accessible to all.

RFTC has more than 800 taxis, each with a capacity to carry 18passengers and 160 minibuses with capacity to carry 30 passengers.

KBS’s fleet has 111 vehicles, including buses and minibuses.

Jean Claude Rurangwa, the in-charge of public transport and safety management in the City of Kigali, said they are convinced the gap will soon be filled.

“There is still a gap of 200 buses in the City of Kigali. There are also loopholes in the new transport arrangement but it is still too early we hope the companies will fix these issues,” Rurangwa said.

He added that the contractors will need to find the remaining buses within three months from August 30 as agreed in the contract.

Rurangwa also advised individuals and companies that are not part of the deal to discuss with the contractors on how they can be integrated.

Statistics show that the City has an estimated 200,000 passengers daily.

It is understood that transport companies such as Gasabo and Camel have suspended operations after losing the tender. 

Also, officials said the number of the vehicles that have been phased off the road under the new arrangement is not known since integration into the three companies is ongoing. 

Rura defends new system

Some people have criticised the new transport system, saying it would eliminate normal taxis, locally known as Twegerane, from the city. 

However, Rura and the City officials insist that the taxis have not been thrown out of business since they will operate on suburban roads.  

Meanwhile, some members of RFTC have joined rivals KBS and Royal Express.

“Around 100 have left without our knowledge so that we can fill the gap; they are causing loss to the cooperative,” RFTC president Dodo Twahirwa complained on Tuesday.

“Why did KBS bid for a zone they knew they would not serve satisfactorily?” he asked without indicating whether runaway members had broken any cooperative rules. 

“We would wish everybody bids for a zone they would afford, instead of stealing our members.” 

However, KBS officials said there is nothing wrong with receiving colleagues in transport business, since the contract with Rura allows such free movement.  

“It would be quite selfish to operate alone, while other people in transport business are redundant. Why should we do that since we even need more vehicles to meet the demand,” Charles Ngarambe, the executive chair of KBS, said.

An owner of a taxi (Twegerane) who joined KBS also dismissed Dodo’s complaint as uncalled for.

“We are the ones who asked to join KBS, because their zone still needs more vehicles yet for RFTC we were no longer making money because there are many vehicles in their zones,” the proprietor, who asked not to be named, said. 

It has since emerged that other operators have joined Royal Express from RFTC. 

Rurangwa, commenting on the shifting, said what is most important is to respect the agreement one had with the company they are quitting.

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