Rwanda plans to phase out the use of private transport in the capital Kigali and instead use public transport within the city as a way of curbing rising congestion.
However, the move has been met with misgivings even as firms see it as a business opportunity.
One of the measures to discourage the use of private cars it to restrict street parking.
“We want to make Kigali a public transport oriented city. Prioritising a modern public transport system is the best way to tackle congestion,” said Kigali City engineer Alphonse Nkurunziza.
“We want to make it possible for residents to leave their vehicles at home and cycle, walk or take a bus,” said Mr Nkurunziza, while responding to complaints by landlords in various parts of the city over a reduction in pavement space after city roads were widened.
City officials plan to dedicate parts of the newly expanded roads to public transport by mid-2018.
“Part of these roads will be dedicated bus lanes and our technical team is working on whether to make the selected routes dedicated lanes for a whole day or only during peak hours,” said Bruno Rangira, the communications director for Kigali City.
In the long term, the city is looking at creating five corridors of about 92 kilometres, which will be fully dedicated to bus transport by 2026. However, according to Mr Rangira the cost of this project is still being evaluated.
The current measures form part of a public transport policy adopted by city authorities in 2013. The policy seeks to restructure public transport.
Landlords and property developers fault authorities for banning roadside parking without providing alternative space for parking lots.
Areas affected are Remera- Kimironko, Nyabugogo–Muhima and Kicukiro-Rwandex upto the the central business district.
“The move is aimed at curbing congestion and creating a modern city where people rely less on private means of transport,” said Mr Nkurunziza.
He said banning roadside parking would encourage the use of buses, as well as lead to private investments in parking lots across the city for those using private transport.
“Buildings should provide parking within their premises or buy land where they can build commercial parking bays,” he said.
However, property developers say land for parking spaces was not adequately provided for in the master plan.
“The city of Kigali master plan provides for very few parking lots. Therefore, city officials need to factor parking projects,” said Charles Haba, the managing director of Century Real Estate and chairman of the Real Estate Association of Rwanda.
Building owners say the parking ratios provided by the city are way below what is required, thus complexes have parking lots with limited capacity.
Even new buildings such as Kigali Heights, which had planned to have 400 parking slots only has 300.
According to experts, the ideal is to have one parking slot for every 45 square metres. But, an average commercial building in Kigali has one parking slot for every 100 square metres.
For example, the Career Centre complex in Kimihurura has 120 parking slots – which translates to one parking for every 95 square metres.
Mr Haba said the move by the city is a deliberate move to protect the environment while also creating business opportunities.
“Parking is going to be big business in this town and the city has opened up many opportunities for investors in, but they must provide for it in the master plan,” he said.
The Kigali master plan was developed in 2013 and is expected to run until 2040.