Rwanda: Coronavirus - Students Return Home, Bus Passenger Numbers Cut By Half

Health workers conduct coronavirus tests (file photo).

The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), is reducing the number of passengers on public buses that previously allowed clients to sit or stand from 70 to 39.

The Director of the RURA Transport Division; Tony Kulamba told members of the media that in a bid to protect Rwandans from the coronavirus, passengers will only be allowed to sit, effectively banning buses from accommodating standing passengers.

Statistics from the regulatory body indicate that, previously, a bus accommodated 70 people. Of these, only 39 people would sit and the other 31 would stand.

"We are well aware that it was normal for passengers, especially in Kigali, to travel sitting or standing. We are reducing the number of passengers to 39 people and the rest will have to wait for another bus. We also know that even those that go upcountry sometimes overload but we have also put strict measures to discourage that," he said.

Ancilla Mbarushimana, a resident of Kabeza cell, welcomed the move.

She pointed out that the issue of allowing passengers to travel while standing has for long been a subject of debate with many worrying about the overcrowding.

"The buses are overcrowded and body contact cannot be avoided. This is a great move but this means that buses will be few. A solution to cover the extra passengers should be found as soon as possible," she said.

Students return home

Meanwhile, all secondary students from the city of Kigali and the Southern province, were tested and given a green light to return to their respective homes on Sunday.

The Ministry of Education said that this is in line with implementing measures set by the government to further strengthen the country's ability to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, after Rwanda confirmed the first case of the pandemic on Saturday.

Kulamba, who is also among the co-ordinators said that the program will run from Sunday 15 to 17.

He added that on Sunday, all students from the City of Kigali and Southern Province were expected to return to their respective homes.

"As planned, head teachers in these schools are supposed to prepare the students beforehand, which means that, public buses go to these schools and they convene in one place before they head home," Kulamba said.

Upon their arrival, Kulamba said that the students are encouraged to wash their hands, before they are tested to ensure that none of them are carrying the virus, before they are sent home.

Taking care of international students

Kulamba pointed out that the Ministry of education has put in place a strategy to accommodate international students.

He said that the regulatory body has also availed buses for international students who live in neighbouring countries such as Burundi.

"For those who can easily be transported to our neighbouring countries like Burundi, we have a different program for them. We have enough cars that are assigned to transport them up to the border, from where they can be picked and returned home safely," he said.

In a public statement released on Saturday, the Ministry of education noted no student will be charged transport fees.

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