21 February 2013

Rwanda: Public Transporters Ordered to Work in Cooperatives

Effective march, all vehicle owners seeking to offer public transport service will have to go through cooperatives, the Rwanda Utility and Regulation Authority (Rura) has said.

According to the directive, Rura will, effective March 1, stop issuance of licences.

The decision was reached as part of wider efforts to streamline public transport, the Director-General of Rura, Francois Gatarayiha said.

Contrary to the existing system where public transporters are free to be or not in public transporters' cooperatives, they are now required to enroll in cooperatives.

Gatarayiha said there is an improvement in the public transport after agencies and other cooperatives came in.

"When public transporters work in cooperatives, it is easy for the security agents to control and easy for their management and good working conditions," he said, adding that some individuals were benefiting from the disorganisation.

Transporters wary

Gatarayiha said the new policy will help government plan and monitor public transport.

However, some transporters say they are wary of management and the benefit of operating in cooperatives.

Ildephone Kanamugire, who has been a driver for the last 12 years, says the new policy will bring in more order, but the cooperatives are not operating under norms.

"Cooperatives are supposed to help in accessing loans, but ours doesn't. This makes these cooperatives lose their credibility. Imagine a cooperative whose members can't even know their shares in the cooperative," he said.

Rura to help

But Rura officials said they were aware of the mismanagement of some cooperatives and are working with the Rwanda Cooperatives Agency to address the issue.

"The cooperative will benefit its members. There is no reason to be in a cooperative without interest. This is why we are working closely with the Rwanda Cooperative Agency to revise working systems so that the cooperatives can generate income for their members," Gatarayiha said.

Public transporters are advised to make their own cooperatives, although they can join the existing ones.

There are currently 34 public transport operators under an umbrella, the Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives and Express Companies.

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