New life and hopes for business have started emerging in many restaurants in Kigali after government announced release of taxi moto transport operations among essiential services that remained closed due to coronavirus.
“Motos are permitted to carry passengers except in Rusizi and Rubavu districts. This follows a recent COVID-19 assessment across the country,” a statement released by Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente on June 3 reads in part.
This news has been highly welcomed by restaurants which depend on taxi moto operators eating at their restaurants, to stay in business.
For example, this morning groups of taxi moto operators started flocking in at a famous taxi-moto restaurant – New Vision restaurant in Kimironko sector, Gasabo district which has been empty for two months.
Jean Damascene Mvuyekure, the New Vision restaurant co-owner in charge of employee said that before the Coronavirus lockdown, the restaurant used to get over 300 moto operators per day but this number dropped.
“We have been getting less than ten customers and very few moto operators who commonly eat from here in normal circumstances, Mvuyekure said, Now with release of moto operations we have started seeing them returning,” he said.
Even with the opening of most essential services in Kigali, small business owners like Mvuyekure said that the coronavirus crisis has left them with a lesson of diversifying and investing in many services.
“This crisis has taught us to be flexible and being able to rethink of other alternatives, for example during coronavirus lockdown we had to add in other services like supplying bread and outside catering,” Mvuyekure said.
Moto operators who spoke to KTPress say that they returned to eat at this specific restaurant because it cheaper and located in a central place which is easy to maneuver.
“A plate of food and meat costs Rwf1000 compared to other restaurants in the city which charge from Rwf1500- Rwf2000 per meal. That is why am here to eat and resume working,” said Gregoire Habiyakure, 50, one of the moto riders.
Like many other restaurants, New Vision restaurant is counting on the return of moto operators to stay in business but operators say clients’ getting used to using moto taxis with meters is going to take time.
All motos which have been allowed to return on the roads have a new meter which is used to charge the distance used to ferry a passenger. However, they have a month to comply.
Before a passenger jumps on a taxi motorbike , a moto operator clicks on the GPS enabled meter to start measuring the distance and cost.
At the destination, the passenger is asked to send the money through a mobile money.
“Sometimes you find that it takes time to explain to the passenger,” Jean Baptiste Turikunkiko, a youthful moto rider said.
In the meantime, the government said that all resumed services must continue adhering to health guidelines from health authorities (hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and social distancing), and all traders are required to accept digital payments.