The recent decision by Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (Rura) and the City of Kigali to award a five-year transport deal to three companies is a welcome for many. This is so as most of Kigali residents and visitors have been struggling to move from one corner of the city to another. The transport companies that won the deal are Kigali Bus Service (KBS), Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC), and Royal Express. Each company has been given a specific zone in the City of Kigali road network.
But the question that is on mind is whether this move will finally streamline public transport in Kigali city. What is known by all is that the old system has failed to give a good service to people moving in the city. It has been a challenge for many to go and come back on time to their respective workplaces or to vacate to other occupations without having to wait endlessly for buses. Scenes of Kigali dwellers stranded on Bus Park are common and this has caused frustrations as people line waiting for buses.
The city that has been tipped as one of the cleanest in Africa has been scoring badly when it comes to public transport. Once I was lining up waiting for a bus and asked myself how the city that has been able to clean its backyards has failed to ease public transport for its residents and visitors. But again this time on I ask myself if oligopoly in public transport will succeed where monopolistic competition has failed. Recall that before this new system there were many companies offering public transport services in four corners on Kigali city but now only three companies will be in charge of the whole market.
Rura Director-General Regis Gatarayiha was quoted by The New Times saying that this new strategy is in line with the new public transport policy approved by Cabinet last year and it will put in place a clear and favorable regulatory framework that encourages investment in public transport as a lucrative sector in the City of Kigali. The major of Kigali city Fidele Ndayisaba assured the public that the three companies have agreed to bring many and comfortable buses in such a way that no passengers will spend more than five minutes on a bus stop. An estimated 200,000 passengers ply Kigali routes on a daily basis according to statistic from Kigali city.
For many tourists that visits Kigali city, motorcycles or “taxi voitures” are favorites for them because of limited time. Instead of endlessly waiting for a public transport that don’t even reach some parts of Kigali city, tourists have been opting for motorcycles that offer quick service. But even these motorcycles have been blamed for causing traffic accidents as some who drive them are inexperienced and violate traffic rules. Another issue that is faced by tourists who boards motorcycles is a language barrier when communicating with our motorcyclists who most of the time don’t have formal education. It is however fun for many tourists to climb Kigali mountains but the problem comes when they want to move faster from one place to another.
Kigali easily accessible by air
Though it has been a challenge to get an efficient public transport inside the city, Kigali is surprisingly accessible by air. Rwanda Air is to be commended for its role to link Kigali city to four corners of the globe. The national carrier operates services to East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East from its main base at Kigali international airport. The national carrier that is younger in East Africa compared to the famous Kenya Airways and Ethiopian airlines has been offering excellent services to the satisfaction of its clients.
Earlier this week, Rwanda Air and Air Uganda penned a code sharing agreement that will increase the number of departures between Kigali and Entebbe to 24 a week for each airline up from the previously operated 17 and 7 respectively. This partnership deal is expected to benefit travel between the two countries when you consider the reduced traveling time of just 35 minutes vis a vis a full day by bus. John Mirenge, Rwandair CEO said that Rwanda Air is committed to providing our customers with easy and convenient access to our destinations and this new code share relationship with Air Uganda affirms that commitment.
The airlines that has been around since December 1st 2002 has proved that it is possible to offer excellent services to customers. It is therefore a contradiction for our visitors to enjoy a good service from Rwandair as they come to visit Rwanda and get a hard time as they move around Kigali city. The capital of Rwanda has a lot to offer to its visitors and it should be a good idea if everyone in the city could move around easily and comfortably. The city that has been able to attract media attention from all over the world cannot fail to offer excellent public transport to its dwellers and Rwanda Air can serve a good example to this.