13 November 2012

Rwanda: Public Transport Association Reviews Rules of Operation

Amidst outcry from operators, the Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC) has retracted a provision in its proposed code of conduct that had sought to bar public transporters in Kigali from engaging in other businesses.

All public vehicle owners and operators were supposed to sign the one-year renewable code of conduct by October 31.

In an interview with The New Times on Monday, the cooperative's secretary general, Alphonse Gahongayire also announced that the deadline has since been extended indefinitely.

The implementation of the new rules is spearheaded by the RFTC as part of broad multi-institutional efforts designed to streamline the public transport sector in the city.

The new rules had drawn sharp criticism from public transport vehicle owners and operators who claimed that the move is tantamount to ceding control of their vehicles to the transport body.

"Article six of the contract seemed especially complicated because it says that drivers shouldn't engage in any other business unless they have written permission from RFTC, which we also modified a bit. If any person has a one day event or an urgent matter, he can seek permission from a RFTC agent at the field but not necessarily from the RFTC head office," said Gahongayire.

He outlined some of the special cases as emergencies, wedding ceremonies, among others.

At least 80 per cent of transporters operating in Kigali City have signed the contracts, he said, after having come to terms with the new rules.

RFTC has over 600 members in Kigali.

The signing of the code of conduct is targeting over 2,000 members including those operating upcountry routes in the next two weeks.

Article five of the code of ethics indicates that anyone that signs a working contract with RFTC should ensure that their vehicle will always be available for public use from 6am to 10pm.

"We don't want to see passengers at bus stations while the buses are parked or drivers have already gone home. Passengers should be ferried to their respective areas," Gahongayire said.

As part of the rules, vehicle owners are required to register their drivers and conductors with RFTC.

Gahongayire reiterated the need to have disciplined drivers and operators in the sector.

"Drivers and conductors should have good conduct to offer better services instead of fighting with passengers. That is why we want to register and identify them," Gahongayire said.

Some vehicle owners who have already signed the code of conduct with the federation told The New Times that they did so after understanding its role but others claim they are yet to be fully convinced.

"We have been told that we can ask for the permission incase we want to do other businesses and I think it can work. Article 6 of the contract was complicated as one cannot seek for written consent if a case is urgent," said Eduard Irambona, a taxi owner and a driver along the Nyabugogo-Kicukiro route.

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