Has IRST invented a bus?

It was reported last week that our own Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST) would “launch the Rwanda Biodiesel Express Bus.” The report added that, “The bus, which is 100% percent powered by environmental(ly) friendly diesel, is an invention of the institute’s Biodiesel and Bioethnol laboratory”.

It was reported last week that our own Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST) would “launch the Rwanda Biodiesel Express Bus.”

The report added that, “The bus, which is 100% percent powered by environmental(ly) friendly diesel, is an invention of the institute’s Biodiesel and Bioethnol laboratory”.

Either there was an error in the report or Rwandans have reason to smile our way all the way to the world market selling buses labeled, “made in Rwanda.” How advanced Rwanda has become!

That is until you read on and found that, “There are only two buses of this kind in the world and were specifically designed by the Swedish Scania company which are driven using 100 percent biodiesel.

Another biodiesel bus is in Brazil.” So Rwandan scientists did not invent the bus and Swedes who designed it do not drive it on their roads!

So what did our scientists at IRST do?  Biodiesel technology has been around for years, whoever wants to make Biodiesel can find the information on the internet    and you do not need a PhD to make ethanol; just brew and distill it from sugarcanes, maize, bananas etc. Rwandans are not prone to complaining about poor environment resulting from carbon emissions from buses and Brazilians are not known for inventions.

What did our scientists do and what is new about the “Rwanda Biodiesel Express Bus”?

Yes the bus had been packed at IRST Mulindi for some time and yes it is beautifully coloured and emblazoned with posters much like “Jaguar buses”.

It is also true that it was at Gikondo show grounds last year, and we all marveled at how much our scientists have come of age but apart from the posters which I guess were printed by a private printer somewhere in the city at a cost to taxpayers, what has IRST done?

Is it not a white elephant that needs to be cared for at a cost to IRST?

The reader was told that the bus “is the only one of its kind in Africa,” however, the statement did not elaborate how being the only one of its kind would benefit Rwandans and Rwanda.

Will IRST register its patent? Will Rwanda make mass production of “Rwanda Biodiesel Express Bus” and therefore recover the money the Institute will have spent on it? What value has the Institute added to the bus apart from the paint and posters?

In many parts of the world the question has been, and remains, how to sustainably produce biodiesel without negatively impacting peoples’ food source.

There was uproar and accusations that the increase in world prices in the last couple of days, was because richer nations particularly the United States, that it had turned its corn/maize and wheat produce into biodiesel leading to reduced food on the international market.

IRST would have all the reasons to “launch “Rwanda Biodiesel Express Bus” had they found a solution to the biodiesel-food dilemma.

The “Rwanda Biodiesel Express Bus”, it was reported, made its first long distance run from Kanombe-Mulindi to Akanyaru on the Rwanda-Burundi border.

Unfortunately it was not explained why our scientists chose the route. Could it be that there are more people along the route to get attracted to the “invention” and increase the demand for the use of biodiesel? Was it a test of ability of the bus to climb Rwanda’s “thousand hills?”

The statement added that, “data collected through the use of the bus will not only help the two countries protect their environment, but also help people in the private sector who are interested in investing in public transport using safe, low-cost and locally available cleaner energies.”

How many Rwandans make choice of the engines of the vehicles they drive, and how will they transition from carbon emitting engines to the biodiesel in case one owns the former? How many Rwandans spend money on fossil oil products because they prefer it to bio products? How much of the “cleaner energies” is available on the Rwandan market and how much production capacity do we have before IRST shows its readiness to help Rwandans to access “available cleaner energies”?

IRST should come back to earth and help Rwandans record and improve on their crude inventions, production methods and scientific knowledge.

For centuries the people of Rwanda cured diseases, produced crops and reared animals. IRST should examine these and pick those that can be combined with those from other countries and come up with things that benefit us and the world. We import some of the basic things we need in life and IRST is “inventing” biodiesel buses!   

I have a proposal to make to IRST, there is a shrub whose leaves cure malaria and protects the patient from attacks for a long time but the trouble is its administration. First you crush three to four leaves of the tree, put the crushed leaves in a container, add 100 ml of water and stir and then filter out the sap.

The sap is colourless, tasteless and has no smell. The sap is administered early in the morning before the patient has eaten or drunk anything.

After drinking the sap the patient is advised to stay outdoors or else there should be a container nearby because he/she will vomit, vomit and vomit.

When the vomiting has stopped the patient will ask for something to eat; give him or her something to drink instead.

In a period of 30 minutes after drinking the sap the patient will be strong enough to tell the difference. Trust me the person will not suffer from malaria for a long, long time irrespective of the prevalence in the surrounding areas.

IRST can help me and humanity to; establish the active curative compounds in the leaves of the shrub mentioned above, establish the cause of the vomiting and how it can be avoided or stopped; make the drug administration more bearable (for example can I add sure or honey without “killing the active ingredients that cure), can I store the sap (or does it ferment and lose its potency?).

And finally what is the right dosage for an adult and a child? I am sure many people in Rwanda especially the gray haired ones know other shrubs and roots that do wonders in curing diseases, and ensure long and healthy lives.