10 February 2013

Rwanda: The Rising Need for Expanded Bus Terminals

Transport operators and passengers in several taxi parks in Kigali have said the small parking lots are greatly stifling their business.

Drivers want exits from parks enlarged to facilitate easy movement of cars and passengers. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

The drivers and passengers, who raised their concerns when The New Times visited the parks last week, appealed to transport authorities to urgently take steps to address the problem.

According to Céléstin Ndaruhutse, the Remera and Kimironko parks leader, the size of the parks can no longer accommodate the big number of vehicles that use the parks everyday.

Ndaruhutse said the problem rises, especially during the peak hours due to the surge in the number of passengers rushing to and from work.

"The park gates measure not more than two meters wide so the exit is narrow. Cars not only collide but also passengers are delayed as they try to compete for space with the cars," Ndaruhutse said of the Remera Park.

Beside exposing passengers to all forms of risk and causing traffic congestion, thieves and other criminals take advantage to steal from passengers.

Ndaruhutse said Remera was meant to accommodate 160 cars at a time but the cars now number about 300, which makes the park overcrowded.

"However, Kimironko is a bit more organised in the sense that cars enter and get out easily. There are shaded lines demarcating parking spaces but congestion still prevails," he said.

The Kimironko park differs from Remera and Nyabugogo parks because it does not host upcountry taxis.

Jean de Dieu Ndahimana, a driver who plies the Remera-Nyabugogo route, told The New Times that during morning hours, a driver might spend about 30 minutes at the exit, which sometimes leads passengers into disembarking in search for alternative transport.

"That is not the only problem though. Nyabugogo seems to be a bit bigger but it is actually small because it hosts too many vehicles from all over the country. This leads to delay in exits," he said.

Ndahimana suggested that parks be widened or new ones built since the number of public cars has increased. This will also reduce jam in the morning and evening.

"You can imagine the kind of loss we shall incur in case of a fire outbreak or any other form of disaster. This is why the solution should be found urgently," he said.

"I wonder whether people in charge sometimes come here to see how difficult it is for drivers to use such small spaces and equally smaller gates," Christophe Muhire, a taxi tout in Remera park, said.

Col. Twahirwa Dodo, the head of Rwanda Federation Transport Cooperative (RFTC), admitted the challenge and said they are trying to find a solution.

"Remera Park is small compared to the number of cars that use it. The exit is too small to safely let cars out. We are planning to draw lines showing where to park. In addition to this, widening both of its gates remains our top priority in order to reduce jam," Col. Dodo told The New Times.

Apart from tracing lines, Col. Dodo said motorcycle riders at Remera bus park entrance will be relocated to make the place safer.

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