As travel between provinces and moto taxi transportation resumed on Wednesday, the regulator Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and law enforcer Rwanda National Police (RNP) say measures against New Coronavirus were observed as public transport services reopened. No serious incidents were registered.
On Tuesday a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame okayed the resuming of travel between provinces within the country as well as the return of motos as public means of transport with the exception of Rusizi and Rubavu districts.
Tony Kulamba, RURA’s General Manager for Transport, told KT Press on Wednesday evening that measures were respected in bus terminals as buses started ferrying people to and from upcountry while moto operators too adhere to the measures.
“I have personally been there in Nyabugogo and other bus terminals. We have been supervising the process of public transport fully resuming. We have not registered any particular incident. Wearing of face masks and social distancing is respected,”
“Generally, the first day went well, people have adjusted to using cashless methods for transport. We have seen that all transport companies (buses) are using cashless payments. We are yet to check if moto operators also adapted to cashless payments as we have been sensitizing them,” Kulamba said.
Kulamba added that through discussions with transport companies and operators, there was a general consensus that mobile money transfers or cards will be the main method of payment of transport fair and avoid accepting cash payments to minimise exposure to COVID-19.
“We talked to moto-taxi operators and they committed to adjusting to using meters and cashless payments. We will verify this with our systems to see if this was done but by principal, they were aware of this as they went back to the roads,”
“However, realistically we know that not all Rwandans have the means or understand the need to pay for transport fair using cashless methods. We are aware that some people could still be using cash to pay for transport services but we encourage everyone to adjust accordingly and avoid cash transactions as much as possible for their owner safety,” he added.
Kulamba said that so far social distancing has been adhered to and moto operators conducted themselves in a disciplined manner, observing hygiene measures such as using sanitisers while travelers also played their part.
The Spokesperson of RNP, CP John Bosco Kabera commended moto operators and passengers as well as transport agencies operating on upcountry routes for adhering to measures against COVID-19 as public transport services resumed.
“People were very organised. We want to commend moto-taxi operators and transport agencies for observing the measures put in place by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19. We did not register any serious incidents on day one,”
“We registered one case of a moto operator who did not have all the necessary documents to go back on the road such as insurance but generally moto operators conducted themselves well. We talked to them, they listened and did the right thing,”
“We encourage everyone to continue observing these measures for their own safety. Social distancing, wearing a facial mask and sanitizing is a priority. This is a continuous process. We urge both transporters and passengers to continue exhibiting high levels of discipline,” CP Kabera said.
He said that Police will continue monitoring to ensure that social distancing and proper hygiene is observed especially in upcountry bound buses, pointing out that RNP will be conducting random checks on vehicles destined for provinces, adding that those who will violate these measures will be dealt with.
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Western Province districts of Rusizi and Rubavu remain off-limits following New Coronavirus cases which were detected in the border towns. Travel to the districts remains suspended until the government issues further directives.
CP Kabera cautioned residents of the two districts against using shortcuts or illegal means to leave the territories of the two districts in violation of the measures as they attempt to travel to other parts of the country.
“We know all the tricks people tend to use. We have been dealing with that since COVID-19 outbreak. We know all the panyas and tactics used. All you need to know is that you will be caught and the law will apply,” Kabera said, urging people to be patient and remain in their districts until further notice.
“We want people to understand the importance of these measures without being policed. The more we understand that these measures were put in place for our own safety, the more we will adhere to them and avoid engaging in acts that violate these measures,” the Police Spokesperson added.
He said that travel between provinces is no excuse to violate the curfew which runs from 9pm to 5am, pointing out that people and transport companies need to carefully plan their travel to avoid being caught on the wrong side of time.
Theoneste Mwunguzi, the chairperson of Rwanda Association of Passenger Transporters (ATPR) told KT Press that transport companies that operate in and out of the city have been advised to stop all operations by 8pm.
“We will be making sure that all vehicles have reached their destinations by 8pm. People will have one hour to get to their homes,” Mwunguzi told KT Press, adding that handwashing facilities have been placed in all bus terminals while drivers have been given masks and sanitizers.
“So far so good. We had planned for this day. We have not met any challenges. People seem to understand the enemy we are dealing with. Social distancing is being observed, everybody has a mask and sanitizer. If we continue like this, we will not face any problem,” Mwunguzi said.
ATPR, is composed of 26 companies that ply different routes countrywide as well as Royal Express which operates in the City of Kigali.