Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has suspended a recent decision to hike public transport fares on different routes in the City of Kigali and on upcountry routes following the intervention of the Prime Minister.
The regulatory body issued new rates following a meeting by the Prime Minister and different line institutions to address public concerns that resulted from the hiking of the transport fares at a time many Rwandans said were still grappling with economic hardships due to the New Coronavirus pandemic.
“Following consultations with relevant stakeholders led by the Prime Minister, RURA wishes to announce that implementation of the public transport tariff revision announced on 14/10/2020 has been suspended in order to monitor the pace of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic” an announcement from RURA issued on Wednesday said.
“In the interim, the Government of Rwanda will subsidize the cost of public transport to account for the economic effects of the pandemic on the passengers,” RURA announced, adding that the new prices will take effect from Friday, October 23, 2020,” RURA said
“The following tariffs will take effect on Friday, 23rd October 2020: City of Kigali 22rwf/km; the rest of the country, 21rwf/km.”
Under the previous regime of prices, RURA had set fares from 30.8 Frw in the province to 25.9 Frw per kilometer and from 31.9 Frw to 28.9 Frw in the City of Kigali, revised from the COVID-19 rates introduced in June as public transport resumed.
The Minister of Local Government Prof. Anastase Shyaka explained that the decision was a result of the citizens voicing their concerns about the new fares which many said did not reflect the economic situation of the people which was worsened by the pandemic.
“As a government which listens to the people, we acted on their concerns. They spoke and we heard. We value their voices. The government did not just stop there, it has offered a subsidy to ensure that people pay less for transport,”
“We met and discussed and came up with a solution that favoured the desires of the people. The government takes note of people’s views and acts accordingly,” Prof. Shyaka said, adding that transport fares are generally subsidized because the government knows people need to have affordable transport means.
“Even before this, the rates that existed are subsidized. They are not equivalent the cost of accessing the service. The government understands that people need to have affordable transport for them to move from one place to another,”.
Breaking down the Fares
The Director General of RURA, Patrick Nyirishema while breaking down the revised fares said that passengers will pay less than they were supposed to pay, thanks to the incentive by the government to cover part of the cost for the citizens.
“What this means is that on the previous tariff of 25.9 Frw, someone traveling to or from Musanze was going to pay 2,340 Frw but under the new rates, the person will pay 1,930 Frw,” Nyirishema said.
“Someone travelling from Kigali to Nyagatare was going to pay 4,290 Frw under the previous rates but that person will now pay to 3,390 Frw. Someone traveling from Kigali to Muhanga would be paying 1, 210 Frw to 1,030 Frw,”
“It means that the difference between 25.9Frw and 21Frw is what the government is covering as a subsidy per kilometre for every passenger. We would like to commend the government efforts to support citizens during these COVID-19 times. The new transport tariffs are also part of the government efforts to make life easier in this times,” Nyirishema said.
Earlier, in response to sustained complaints, mostly on social media, RURA had responded that the fare increment had been “carefully considered”, indicating that the decision would stand, despite social media pressure.
The “stakeholders” in question include public transport providers, whose losses due to measures to prevent the spread of the virus, were a major consideration in the decision to raise the fares. RURA said it had considered the cost of operating the routs, the investment made and the distance on some routes such as Kimironko, Nyacyonga and others which had been miscalculated in the previous rates.
Prof. Shyaka emphasized that the decision was informed by the views of citizens, adding that the government will do what it takes to make lives of the citizens easier as the slowly recover from the impact of COVID-19. He called for continued vigilance in the fight against the virus, despite declining numbers, urging passengers to continue adhering to government measures against the spread of the New Coronavirus.