CHARLES KWIZERA probes why many are now sending cash by buses and not Western Union
Despite the existence of money transfer agencies like Western Union and Money Gram, which do the work in a matter of minutes, some people prefer to send the money by bus.
Though Western Union has existed for 150 years, with more than 320,000 agents, in most countries of the world, it has just been introduced in Rwanda.
All the ease and efficiency of Western Union or Money Gram has not stopped the emergency of transferring money by bus. This is “the new kid on the block” in the money transferring arena here in Rwanda.
Most of this money is sent by people to either their friends or relatives. Sometimes, they send the money to people they are doing business with.
To find out how it works, Sunday Times visited the Jaguar bus offices in Nyabugogo. Here, I learnt that to send Rwf30,000 to Uganda, you will have to part with Rwf 3,000 or 2,000.
This provoked me to find out why their charges were not consistent, I talked to one of the bus touts. The tout who requested anonymity said:
“Here at Jaguar, you are charged according to your degree of familiarity with the officials. Let’s say if you are a businessman who travels regularly, they can not charge you the same as the person they don’t know.”
James Nkurunziza, a young man in his twenties, finds this means of transferring money cheaper. He says: “I send money to my people in Uganda by Jaguar bus because it’s cheaper than western union.”
He said that transferring money by Western Union is expensive. He quickly admitted that it is safer than sending money by bus. He said that although buses are ridden with risks like accidents and robbery where one’s money can get lost, it is still cheaper and he is ready to take the risk.
Different bus companies have different mechanisms for charging people who send money by bus. At Kampala coach offices, also in Nyabugogo, their rates appeared to be consistent. Here they charge a flat rate of ten per cent of the money one is sending. Many people have differing reasons why they send money by whatever means.
“My brother lives in the U.S but he caters for all my needs like he is just a few minutes walk away from home,” commented Diana Nankunda who was waiting to receive money at the Kisementi based Western Union agency. Eager to know the problems she may be encountering using Western Union, I prodded further, and she opened up.
“The only problem with this service is that you can some times come and find when there is a problem with the network and this can go on for hours hence making you wait for long.”
When I talked to her about the bus option, she told me that it was also fine but the problem was that “for it, it’s limited to sending in the neighboring countries only.”
Innocent Twagirumukiza, another regular user of the Western Union intimated to me why most people some times use the bus option instead.
“Some times ignorance also plays its role in this whole thing, because if by Western Union the charges are 15 percent and in Kampala coach its 10 percent. I think it would be more profitable to use the former where the money will reach its destination in time than when it’s going to reach the next day.”