Egyptian luxury coach builder MCV has set sights on Rwanda’s public transport industry as the country moves to phase out small gauge buses.
MCV (Commercial Vehicle Manufacturing), the Egypt-based Mercedes-Benz licensee, has selected Akagera Business Group (ABG), to distribute Mercedes Benz buses for the company in Rwanda.
The deal was launched on the back of a 20-Mercedes-Benz-bus purchase by Rwandan transporter Nile Safari Express’s from ABG.
MCV now goes head to head in competition with South Korean motor vehicle manufacturer Hyundai, who entered the Rwandan market in 2016 with regional bus operator Volcanoes Express.
“We are used to Toyota Coasters, but considering improvements in the transport sector, our company decided to try out these new buses,” Aimable Nkunda, the managing director of Nile Safari Express, said.
A former transport officer at the Rwanda Defence Forces, Nkunda says that despite the higher price, the new buses will see them provide product differentiation and help them capture a niche on the Kigali-Musanze-Rubavu route for which they have been licensed.
“Initially, our company was called Kigali Safaris, but we thought we were restricting ourselves from plying other routes, so we changed our name to Nile Safari Express and with time we shall operate a longer and more diverse route network,” added Nkunda.
Stretched public transport system
Rapid growth in the commuter population has stretched Rwanda’s public transport system, prompting the sector regulator to ask operators to move to larger capacity buses.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency had initially given a 90-day notice to operators to replace their fleets with bigger buses but has since opted for a gradual approach with a freeze on licensing new 30-seater buses for public transport.
“We are providing the next generation of buses and given the luxury and the cargo space in the buses; we hope that it will help customers. We shall support MCV the same way we have supported Toyota to do businesses in this country,” said Akagera Business Group managing director, Vinay Gorajia.
According to Vinay, operators will be supported with full-time services and spare parts.
So far RURA has licensed 41 transport operators in the country down from 46 in 2015.
Reports from RURA indicate that due to non-compliance with new regulations, four companies were shut down and one was given a suspension to overhaul its management.
In the past five years the country has also witnessed growth in companies that ply cross-border routes from one company to four which between then use a fleet of 64 buses. The fleet is divided between bus bodies mounted on lorry chassis by Kenyan coach builders and Chinese and South Korean buses.