The City of Kigali (CoK) plans to introduce school buses to provide transport services to children in nursery, primary, and secondary schools who commute daily from home to school.
If the proposal is implemented in January next year as planned, the students will expect a school bus to pick them from their neighbourhoods to their respective schools and from school back home at the end of classes.
According to Jean-Claude Rurangwa who is in charge of transport in the CoK, consultations are going on between the city and directors of schools in order to kick-start the scheme.
Traffic police and other education stakeholders have also been invited to share their ideas on the feasibility of the project as the city also wishes to identify the destinations of the students and who would board which bus.
Other things to be identified include the age group of the students and their physical conditions because some of the students might need special bus services, Rurangwa said.
“The move aims to save the students from the delays in traffic jam and help them reach home safely,” he explained.
It is expected that private transport companies will be invited to bid for contracts to provide the services once the policy is in place, Rurangwa said.
Why school bus?
Among more than 220 nursery, primary, and secondary schools that have been identified around the city, some of their students travel at least two kilometres to reach school.
Rurangwa said that the city has noticed that more and more parents make different private arrangements to take their children to school and the arrangements are not necessarily simple.
He said that some parents with own cars take their children to school and this increases the jam during peak hours around town.
It has also been noticed that some parents pay a lot of money in order to have the schools provide transport services for the students, the official noted.
Others hire motorcycles to take the kids to school; a choice that constantly leaves the parents worried about their children’s lives as most accidents around Kigali involve motorcyclists.
But a bigger number of the students board ordinary buses with the rest of the city passengers, which is among the causes of showing up late at school.
“Most of the time students reach school late and tired. This affects their overall performance,” said Emile Bankwere, the director of APACE, a secondary school in Nyarugenge District.
Bankwere said that introducing special school buses would help children commute to school in comfort and would significantly reduce instances of late comings or dodging classes by some students.
Joselyne Mukabagire, a mother of three, agrees that the buses are a good idea.
“The system will help us save money because we spend a lot with the buses the school has hired for our children,” she said.
Mukabagire’s three children study at Kigali Parents School, one of a few schools in Kigali that provide students with transport, charging Rwf 30,000 for each child per month for the transport service.
Rurangwa said that the envisaged new school buses will be more affordable to all and will boost the quality of education for the students because they will commute in a more secure and comfortable way.
The school bus service is included in a series of reforms in public transport that the CoK has embraced since August, 30 this year. On this date, 3 companies won the tender to operate public transport around town for the next five years.
City officials say the reforms aim at bringing better quality service in public transport.
The school bus business exists in other countries. In Kampala, Ugandan capital city, the Whitelines school bus was created in 2007. It is described as “an integrated school transport system which has the potential to reduce traffic congestion, protect children from accidents, and help schools to be more efficient, relieve parents and support local authorities”.