KIGALI - Life temporarily came to a standstill on Friday morning at Nyabugogo main taxi park as over 200 commuter drivers parked their vehicles in a strike over high parking charges imposed by their association.
They demanded to meet Col (rtd) Ludovic Twahirwa, the president of the commuters’ association to express their bitterness over higher parking fees levied on them.
Each taxi is supposed to pay Rwf3800 daily to be allowed to operate from the park.
The Nyabugogo terminal mainly accommodates taxis commuting upcountry.
According to the drivers, this amount charged by ATRACO is so high for them that they hardly get profits at the end of the day.
“ATRACO charges Rwf3,800 for upcountry taxis from Nyabugogo and when you reach upcountry parks, other charges are imposed on us and at the end of the day, you have no penny to take home,” said Jean Paul Nduwimana who plies the Nyanza route in the Southern Province.
Another driver who preferred to remain anonymous said that their business is affected by the numerous transport companies that have sprung up in the past few years, which has led to passengers not to go to the park to board their taxis.
“You see there are so many transport agencies that have coasters that commute upcountry which are in most cases preferred by passengers. This has affected us and now we want ATRACO to lower the parking fees to enable us get some profit,” he said.
The drivers also complained about the park’s current bad situation accusing Nyarugenge district authorities of not taking good care of it as it often floods when heavy rains fall.
During the meeting with Twahirwa (commonly known as Dodo), both parties agreed to lower the parking fees from Rwf3, 800 to 2,800.
In a subsequent interview Twahirwa said that the body is aware of the situation and is doing everything possible to normalise it.
He also attributed the high parking fees to the heavy taxes imposed on ATRACO by Nyarugenge district.
“The district should also lower the taxes. You see the park belongs to the district, we pay highly for it, so we are also requesting the district to consider the revising their duties,” said the retired officer.
When contacted, the acting mayor of Nyarugenge district Berchmas Kamali said that there was an increase on rent fees from Rwf5 million to 8 million per month which he said could have caused ATRACO to also increase the parking fee.
On the issue of the floods in park, he said that more trenches are going to be constructed.