In 2012, national census put the population in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali at 1.135 million, making it home to 16% of the country’s population then.
This year, the population of Kigali is estimated at 1,208,000, representing an increase of 3.25% from last year’s 1,170,000, according to United Nations Macrotrends.
According to city Engineer Emmanuel Katabarwa, the City of Kigali needs around 500 buses to deal with its public transportation challenges, against 229 available. This implies a-271 bus gap, according to Eng. Katabarwa.
“We are working with Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Auhorities(RURA) and Rwanda Transport Development Authority(RTDA) to encourage transport operators to bring in more buses. Apparently some buses are not being put to good use,” Katabarwa said.
Over time, shortage of buses worsened the time commuters spend on a bus stop.
The Acting Director General of RURA Deo Muvunyi stated that the current average wait could be as long as one hour.
However, some commuters say that they wait for buses for much longer.
“I finish work at 6PM and immediately head to a bus stop, but I reach home after 9PM. You can Imagine if you have to go through the same challenge every day,” Jack Nsanzimana, a resident of Kanombe sector said.
In front of this issue, transport operators blame the licensing system which local banks consider insecure. Their license lasts for 3 years which they say it is a disadvantage.
“One way of dealing with this challenge is by working together. Most importantly, we need government’s support to make our business secure. You cannot go to a bank asking for a loan to buy buses with a three year license,” Jules Cesare Ndabaganje, Managing Director of Royal Express told KT Press.
“Obviously, you won’t get money. The license should be extended to five years and above. This is could allow us get financing from banks.”
Ndabaganje further alleges that the city needs to think about bus dedicated lanes to dodge congestion which affects public operators’ trips.
“Dedicated bus lanes could be among sustainable solutions. There are a couple of challenges which should be dealt with seriously, if delays are to be solved,” Ndabaganje said.
Suggesting some solutions on top of bringing in more buses, Eng. Katabarwa said a GPS-based technology or passenger information systems in pipeline will monitor buses and track their movements for passengers to be informed on arrivals at different bus terminals.
Once installed in city buses and terminals, Katabarwa said that it will enable commuters to track certain bus routes and reserve seats on such buses.
“The system could assist operators in dispatching buses on terminals according to demand. Passengers can also be able to book seats,” Katabarwa noted.
In 2013, RURA in collaboration with City of Kigali hired three transport operators for a five year contract in city of Kigali. The companies are Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives(RFTC), Kigali Bus Services(KBS) and Royal Express which divided up four zones of Kigali.
Terms were clear on how every company should increase fleet to fit traffic demand. Ever since, the contract was never renewed and apparently, the companies are not meeting traffic demand.
Last week, RURA announced Volcano Express, a public transport company with strongholds on the route Kigali-Huye as new transport operators joining the three.
Volcano Express will ply Remera – Town, Remera – Special Economic Zone, Remera – Bwerankori, Remera -Nyabugogo, Remera – Busanza and Rubilizi – Nyabugogo.
News has it that any time soon, transport operators will add a-20 bus fleet in the city transport.