In a bid to ease public transport within the City of Kigali, transport operators have been directed to operate on specific routes. This follows public outcry over shortage of transport in the city during peak hours.
To mitigate the shortage, RURA, in collaboration with City authorities, have directed transport agencies to operate on given routes focusing on those that have been facing challenges of many commuters.
Kigali Bus Services will be responsible for the downtown-Remera-Kabeza-Samuduha route, while Rwanda Federation Transport Cooperative (RFTC) will be taking downtown-Kanombe- Kimuhurura-Kimironko route.
Royal Express will take Kicukiro, Gikondo while the other taxi operators who are not members of transporters' federation will operate in the city outskirts.
The Head of Transport Regulation Department at RURA, Eng. Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, said operating on specialised routes will help to streamline the industry.
"Each transport agency will be responsible for its given routes, if we find many commuters stranded it will be easier for us to follow up," Katabarwa said. He added that the specialised taxi operators are requested to mainly focus on peak hours.
Kigali City Mayor, Fidele Ndayisaba, said transport operators will work on a rotational system within the city.
"We are ensuring that these transport operators within the city embark mostly on commercial areas to ease transport for the traders," Ndayisaba said, adding that the city plans to enlarge the parking following taxi drivers' complaints over fines accumulated due to narrow and small parking areas.
Several Kigali City traders have been closing shop early in the evening even when they expected more customers in a rush to board taxis.
When The New Times visited a stage near SULFO at 8:30pm, passengers in long queues were seen scrambling to get into a taxi.
Most of the affected commuters are those who travel to Remera, Kimironko, Kabeza, Kicukiro and Kanombe suburbs.
According to some of the commuters this paper talked to, shortage of transport is affecting business activities.
"Between 6pm and 9pm is when we expect to get clients, but we now hardly get them because people don't want to shop at this time, they instead hurry to board taxis as early as possible before they get stranded for hours while waiting for taxis," one of the traders, who was among the commuters, said.
The traders said with availability of transport up to late hours, they would work for longer hours.
Another city trader who was boarding a taxi-moto to Remera after waiting for two hours, said she now spends a lot of money on taxi-motos.
"Taxi-motos not only cost me a lot on fares, but also make me suffer the biting wind on my way home."
However, the taxi operators want a transport fee increment while returning to the city during late night hours.
"The reason why most of us don't work late hours is that when one plies routes like Kimironko and Remera, you come back without any passenger," Jean Pierre Habonimana, a taxi driver, who plies the Remera route, said.
When contacted, the Chairman of Transport Association, Charles Ngarambe, attributed challenges in the public transport to lack of a transport policy.
"Without establishing a transport policy, these challenges will not be solved. So there is need for the government to devise such a policy to give guidelines on how transport can operate," Ngarambe. who is also the Managing Director of Kigali Bus Services, said.
The shortage of transport in Kigali worsened ever since KBS halted its operations on city routes citing losses, but the company has since resumed operations after discussions with RURA and City authorities.