If there is anything to celebrate the end of this year it is the government’s call on civil servants to respect working hours.
Some would say the call was long overdue after several exposes by the media and the public that the Friday sports hours in the public service had been converted to drinking hours and shopping time. Nevertheless, better late than never.
It has become common currency that only few government employees attend sports activities paid for with taxpayers’ money, and this subtracts at least two working hours on the cheats’ weekly docket.
When the government increased weekly working hours from 40 to 45 in 2003, the spirit was to significantly improve the country’s productivity to attain the ambitious 2020 vision.
The paradigm shift entailing starting work at 7am to 5pm with only a one-hour mid-day break was received with a lot of scepticism but later on came to be part of workers’ daily routine because of thorough implementation.
Now that there was relaxation as acknowledged by the minister of public service, Rwandans would only wish to see systematic implementations of rectification measures proposed by the ministry for the country to get the best out of the lucky few who secured a job while unemployment is rampant.
This would not only contribute to the country’s economic growth but also save thousands of service seekers who are often condemned to long waits in front of closed office doors at risk of instant death if they sneezed (Going by Rwandan traditional beliefs).
In the developing Rwanda that battles scarcity of professionals in crucial areas including medical and education, consequences of late or no reporting for work at all can be grave.
If a doctor sees four patients in an hour on average, late reporting means that a number will not be attended to if he was an hour late, or chose to extend his lunch break.
Never mind that in some cases, it takes one month to secure an appointment to see a consultant. The teacher who reports late will struggle to cover the curriculum prescribed for the academic year.
To be more realistic however, the government would also need to forge a remedy to the growing rush hour traffic jam, which would not only help government employers but also those in the private sectors.
The transport system in Kigali is not conducive to many government workers supposed to report to work at 7am. A bus can take an hour from areas like Kanombe to town. This means that many workers are required to get up at five or earlier to prepare and walk to bus stages that take between 30 minutes and an hour waiting for passengers to start the journey.
What the government can do so far is to compel bus operators to stay on the road rather than spend time waiting to fill up.