With the arrival of Kigali Bus Service (KBS) as an alternative provider of transport in Kigali city, many could not hide their excitement. Paying just Rwf200 for an hour of traveling around town, or Rwf500 for the whole day, was unheard of in Kigali according to Emmanuel Bayisenge, a regular traveler.
But after a month, his excitement seems to have faded at the same rate as it had set in. His disappointment nevertheless has everything to do with the popularity of KBS.
“Many people are now using the bus service and most of the buses are always full,” laments Bayisenga adding that he sometimes waits at the bus stage for over an hour before getting a bus that is not filled up.
Bayisenga points out that one time; he had to travel from Remera and bought a ticket for the whole days transport at Rwf 500. But on reaching town, he says that he could not get a bus to take him to Kigali Health Institute (KHI), where he was heading to.
“You have to fight to get on the bus even when you have already bought a ticket,” Bayisenga says. At the time I found him in town, he was planning to head back to Remera, but again he could not find a bus to take him, even with his ticket.
One Mutesi, says that the introduction of KBS was a good idea but the fact that it has now become time wasting is what has brought about some people’s lamentations. She says that “initially, I was to save money.” But now all she does is to lament.
She says that if one has an appointment and trusts the service to transport him or her in time, then that is just a dream.
She adds that it is really bad in the morning hours when many people are rushing to work. Mutesi proposes that the owners of KBS should introduce more buses or they stand to lose customers.
Mutesi also notes that KBS should increase on the hours of operations, more especially during weekends.
Working up to midnight or better still for 24 hours would be a welcome idea to many people in Kigali according to her.
The idea of KBS was introduced in 2006 as a business project by a local entrepreneur.
Charles Ngarambe, the chairman of the company says that they are committed to providing first class public transport in Kigali.
He says that twenty buses will be rotating around the city, with sudden stoppages at bus stops to off-load and load passengers.
Ngarambe further explained that the buses would be mounted with a Contactless Reader-Writer near the driver’s seat or entrance to perform the task of checking the validity of the card that the traveler uses.
“The traveler must touch the card on the contact less reader upon boarding the bus, which reader will then check the validity of the card and upon approval or rejection, a signal will be activated with different tones for approval and rejection,” he says.
He adds that they are going to introduce a monthly smart card system where the traveler will buy the card and use it upon entering the bus.
“The card will have an expiry date When a Monthly Pass is touched on the reader; the reader will display the expiry date on the card for the traveler and driver’s knowledge.”
Ngarambe adds that, “Where else when a Prepaid Card is touched, the reader will display the balance amount on the card after deducting the fare.”
Asked about the fares, Ngarambe said that they are going to charge only Rwf 200 per hour irrespective of destination and routes one has to take so long as it is within the time limit indicated on the ticket.
And when the traveler gets back on the bus he/she has to put it back in the slot to check.