Kigali’s public transport woes continue

Despite Kigali City’s efforts to improve the public transport system, endemic complaints from commuters persist.
People lining up for taxi. The Sunday Times / File.
People lining up for taxi. The Sunday Times / File.

Despite Kigali City’s efforts to improve the public transport system, endemic complaints from commuters persist.

Emmy Kayiranga, a commuter from Kicukiro, confided his woes to The Sunday Times.

“It is a big challenge for us to get a bus. It is now a quarter to eight and we have no bus yet we are supposed to be at work before eight. It’s no different in the evenings,” says disappointed Kayiranga.

“Buses are inadequate and commuters are many. There is need to work out the public transport issue once and for all, as not everyone can afford a car,” says Eugenie Mukakalisa, a trader at Nyabugogo market.

Long queues of passengers awaiting commuter buses are nowadays a common occurrence  in the city.

“I have been here since 7:00 p.m and it is now around nine. I kept waiting and there was a long queue,” says a commuter who only identified herself as Jacqueline.

“There is a shortage of buses yet authorities claim  public transport has improved which is not the case.” 

Kevin Karemera, a Lycee de Kigali student lamented: “We are obliged to be to school by 7:30am which is almost impossible. We risk punishment or miss class. But we can’t walk as our school is far.”

Public transport drivers raise issues, which only seem to exacerbate the situation. They claim that the recent effort by city authorities to assign specific routes to them has affected their business.

“It was very easy and beneficial to us before until the authorities assigned us specific routes. For instance, if I take passengers from downtown to Kabeza at night, I am sure that I will not get return passengers, thus counting losses,” says a driver based at the National Bureau of Statistics stage.

“Many of us prefer not to use the route since we cannot hike the fare beyond that set by the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority,” he adds. 

Other drivers say buses are inadequate vis-à-vis the number of commuters while others claim they lack passengers.

But the Director of Media and Communication at Kigali City Council, Bruno Rangira, seems to differ. He says that commuter buses were dispatched  to various routes to ease the transport dilemma, adding that since then, positive changes were evident.

Rangira, however, admits that the inadequacy of buses compared to the number of passengers was crippling.

The State Minister in charge of Transport in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Dr. Alex Nzahabwanimana, says the government has formulated a new policy to tackle the problem.

“We are formulating a new policy to solve the transport issues which is a bit disorganised. We have consulted transporters, public representatives, police and we have already proposed a new policy which we want to forward to the cabinet for approval,” says Nzahabwanimana.

“Transporters should avoid disorder and provide better services instead of making passengers wait for long without knowing when the buses will be available,” he adds.

“We want to curb disorder in public transport and develop it,” he says.