Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has launched a crackdown on cab drivers in Kigali who work while their metres are switched off, which puts them off the radar.
On Tuesday, about fifteen taxis were impounded during a joint operation by police and RURA within different Kigali suburbs.
The operation targeted operators who were carrying passengers with the metres off.
"We have been sensitizing them to be online whenever they are carrying a passenger. Today we have partnered with police to mount an inspection. We found that some were driving while the metres are off," said Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the head of transport regulation department at RURA.
Powered by Yego Innovision Limited, the metres were launched last year in September to calculate the cost of a cab ride, monitor speed and location of the taxi for easy access by passengers.
The initiative was first resisted by operators with some even threatening to drag the regulator and the innovator to court.
Katabarwa said that there are still gaps in response to the metres and some drivers are still resistant to change, or merely trying to hide their profits in order to evade taxes or other payments.
He reiterated the benefit of using the metre system among which it helps the drivers to meet passengers, encourages cashless payments, as well as assisting the drivers with credit reference since it documents their different transactions.
"It has many benefits. The drivers should be the first to support its implementation," he said adding that it also enables government to get information about their businesses so that it can plan for them.
The drivers apprehended yesterday were let off with a caution while according to RURA, such cases may result into fines worth Rwf200,000.
Jean-Pierre Lover Ndagijimana, one of the drivers who had been held said that the system is good but they are meeting some challenges that need to be addressed.
"They caught me when I was going to a carwash, I had no passenger. RURA says that we have always to switch on the metre and be online but sometimes we do not have passengers or we are just carrying family members," he said.
According to an outstanding agreement, the operators are charged a 10 per cent commission on every transaction.
"We suggest that they allow us to switch off the meters when we are not working, or remove them to avoid being stolen," he added.
Jean-Baptiste Habimana another driver admitted that they have not yet adapted to the technology,
"We have not yet adapted. Sometimes we forget to switch them off, and they continue to count even when our passengers have arrived to their destinations and paid their fare," he said.
He also added that he still has a problem with the 10.5% charges that go to Yego Innovision.
"You can end up paying up to Rwf4,000 or 5,000 a day, yet one has to look for passengers by themselves," he said.