Waking around Kigali, one gets an impression that many people survive through driving taxis. And in doing their work, they provide a very important service to the rest. But one wonders whether their services are really appreciated.
But instead, and in most cases, they are always subject to abuse and all kind of insults. It is unfair especially in a developing economy where not every one can afford their own car to hold taxi drivers in contempt, given their importance.
Rwandan taxi drivers are highly discipline when one does a comparative analysis. Take a look at for example Ugandan taxi drivers.
They do not give a damn about the road rules or the number of passengers they can load onto their cars.
In Rwanda, the drivers and their conductors will at all times adhere to the required number of passengers as determined by road rules.
Recently, I traveled to Uganda of course by road that’s when I got to realize why taxi drivers in Rwanda should be appreciated based on the observations on the way.
Taxi drivers in Rwanda are outstanding compared to a few I have observed around the region.
They are highly responsible when it comes to maintaining traffic rules. Like the motorists maintain that the helmet must be worn all the times, drivers have also insisted on the use of the seat belt. This is stuff that failed the test of implementation next door.
In Rwanda, drivers are strict with the seat belt.Immediately a passenger gets in to the front seat; either the driver or the conductor takes the responsibility to remind him/her about the seat belt.
Of course not all taxi drivers in the country abide with traffic rules all the time. But largely one can safely say that they have done rather well.
Emma operates a taxi from the Nyabugogo Tax Park. He says that it is now part of his responsibility.
He says that this responsibility is out of the fact that respecting traffic rules has a direct impact on his work.
“It’s part of my mindset that before I start driving, I must have the seat belt fixed, then glance at the front passenger to ensure that he has done the same, then, I start off the journey,” Emma explains.
He explains that a seat belt is no longer a traffic rule to him, but a commitment to protecting his own life and the lives of his passengers.
“It is my life and my responsibility to protect my own life.”
Betty claims that it’s not possible for her to survive without public transport. She says that although there are some drivers who fail to comply with traffic rules and regulations, majority of them have complied.
“Precisely, some drivers fail to obey to a certain extent. But to my understanding and my simple judgment, depending on the movements I make all around, the majority is obedient.”
Col (rtd) Dodo Louis Twahirwa the President of Atraco, a private taxi association said that although its not right to say that drivers have improved in their services, it is important to note their efforts to comply with the rules comparing to drivers in the neighboring countries.
“We have tried all possible ways to ensure that taxi drivers in their respective operating places keep to the rules,” adding that “this has been achieved in collaboration with the traffic police,” says Twahirwa.
He explained that implementing the law calls for putting in place effective measures to apply it.
“Where we are not able to effectively work, the traffic police can never fail to take action. I therefore can’t fail to recognize such efforts,” he says.
Twahirwa says that many different challenges come-up in operations. He believes that with all efforts combined, like in other institutions, every thing is possible and a change for the best can be attained.
Twahirwa calls upon all the drivers to be determined to respect the rules and regulations peacefully.
Although some institutions and associations are put in place to enforce road safety, its important to note that each individual has a part to play in maintaining road safety through using roads responsibly, as its not only the drivers who cause accidents.