16 January 2013

Rwanda: Public Transporters Raise Concerns Over New Reforms

Public transporters have expressed concern over plans by Rwanda Utility Regulation Authority (Rura) to allocate selected transport agencies to designated routes without consulting them.

Rura is currently working on a plan to change the operation of transport services, whereby one or two transport agencies will be allocated to particular routes as part of the wider efforts to streamline public transport.

According to the proposal, every route from Kigali City to provinces will be plied by one recognised agency, a shift from the current situation where multiple companies may operate on a particular route or switch routes depending on demand.

In separate interviews with The New Times, the transporters said although they will comply with the proposed changes, it will affect their operations.

"They should have consulted us and see everyone's capacity in terms of increasing the number of cars because it is clear that there will be a shortage of cars. We, at the ground, know better the challenges in public transport," Gerard Bimenyimana of African Tours Agency, said.

Passengers worry

The new move is also causing worries among passengers, who fear some agencies may not be effective, while others may not be able to increase the number of their fleet.

Fabien Hakizimanama, a passenger, said, "For instance, the Kigali-Huye route used to have more than three agencies in every 30 minutes, but only one agency has been allocated there under the new arrangement; how can one agency afford to take all those passengers?" he asked.

"Even if it releases a vehicle every 15 minutes, it can't afford. We are the ones who are going to suffer in this new policy," he added.

Argument is that the reforms are beneficial to transporters as it will create monopoly on specific routes amid a surge in passengers.

Passengers also fear customer care will be harmed as there will be no competition.

"We used to have several options to choose from and there was competition, but when this policy is implemented, we shall have no choice," Gaspard Mulindabigwi, a passenger found in Nyabugogo, said.

But officials from Rura are optimistic in the proposed changes, describing them as another effort by the regulator to streamline public transport services.

"We are still working with our partners to see its feasibility so that this proposal can be beneficial to both agencies and clients," Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the in-charge of Transport in Rura, said by telephone.

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