The government has extended the deadline for taxi moto operators to go cashless to May 2020, The New Times has learnt.
Commercial cyclists had last year been given a deadline of July 2019.
The decision (which is contained in the national motorcycle transport strategy) to introduce cashless based payment system for taxi-moto operators was informed by the success of "Tap-and-go" payment system, which is deployed on public commuter buses in Kigali.
Jean Paul Nyirindekwe, the Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Infrastructure, said the delay to implement the new system was occasioned by the difficulties in getting the supplier of the meters.
Government has now hired Yego Moto, Pascal Technology, and Mara Phone to supply the technology, he disclosed.
"The pilot phase for the meter system, which incorporates cashless payment, will start in the City of Kigali," he told The New Times.
This means that all motorcycles are supposed to have meters going forward and plans are underway to roll out the technology to other parts of the country, depending on its success in the City of Kigali.
The decision was welcomed by Daniel Ngarambe, the president of FERWACOTAMO, a federation of motorcycle cooperatives, who have set their own deadline.
"We held a meeting with RURA (Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency) and Police and agreed on putting a lot of energy in registering all the commercial motorcyclists to have the programme commence by March," he said.
Statistics from RURA show that the country has 25,000 to 31,000 licensed taxi-motors distributed among 146 co-operatives and an estimated 20,000 who are unlicensed. More than half of them operate in Kigali city.
How is the system set?
Under the cashless payment system, the co-operatives will have to equip their fleet with GPS-enabled devices that calculate kilometres covered and the fare. The commuters should, in turn, only use cards or Mobile Money to pay.
It is understood that RURA is working on the fare structures for taxi motos, the same way the agency regulates fares for public commuter buses.
Daniel Ngarambe, the president of FERWACOTAMO, a federation of motorcycle cooperatives, told The New Times that the fares were determined by RURA from studies carried out to ensure fairness for both stakeholders and users and will be made public as long as the programme has been initiated.
The cashless system is expected to help end unnecessary haggling for fares between taxi-moto riders and passengers.
The Government also sees it as a way of modernising the taxi-moto business in order to make it attractive for investments.
The system is also expected to rein in reckless riders.
The system will curb theft by tracking motorcycles with a GPS system in case of theft, but, above all, it is in line with Rwanda's goal to become a cashless economy by 2024.
Are riders ready for the shift?
Ngarambe said that they are closely working with motorcyclists to train them on this new initiative.
"We are now registering commercial motorcyclists but especially train them on using these new devices," he said.
Commuters have also welcomed the move, saying that it will save time.
"We spend a lot of time arguing about transport fares and waiting for change, but, this time, it will be just to tap and leave," said Fidele Gaspard Abimana, a resident of Kimironko Sector in Gasabo District.