Transport operators said they will deploy buses on Kigali’s suburban routes three years after commuters in these areas suffered from fleet shortages.
Despite Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority expanding public transport routes in majority of the urban centres in 2015, most have remained abandoned or underserved, making commuting a hassle.
Particularly, routes with unpaved roads in Bumbogo, Rutunga, Nduba and Gasanze in Gasabo District, Nzove-Rutonde in Rulindo, alongside Masizi, Gihogwe and Jali, among others have few or no fleet to serve them, despite a sharp rise in demand.
As a result, Kigali City’s mass transport system has for the past two years been unable to adequately serve the suburban commuters. These travellers are fast increasing mainly due to affordable housing and the on-going crackdown on informal settlements around the Central Business District.
Rwanda Federation of Transports Co-operatives (RFTC) officials told Rwanda Today they would deploy more fleet to all the routes in a week.
“We are deploying coaster buses especially in the areas with many people, others will receive minibuses and will operate on a regular basis to ensure that no one gets stranded while travelling to or from town,” said Bishop Kihangire, director of transport at RFTC.
“We are sorting a few final issues like painting the vehicles as well as installing the cashless system,” he added.
RFTC said it had bought more than 20 70-seater buses for the Nyabugogo –Kimironko, and Karuruma-Gatsata-CBD routes, which would see a number of buses re-deployed to the underserved suburban routes based on demand.
Until now, most of the routes were left to a few minibuses, which were chased out of the capital and national paved roads as part of a drive to promote the use of 35-seater buses in public transport.
Many have since abandoned the routes citing the poor state of road infrastructure, which results in frequent breakdowns and high operating costs.
Low-income earners in Kigali decried the high cost of commuting to and from town.
“When you calculate what you spend on transport costs, it can be up to half a month’s income. Rura had said they had fixed the fares, but all of a sudden minibuses that had started operating could not go beyond the paved road in Zindiro,” said Eugenie Mukarurangwa, a trader who lives along the Bumbogo-Gikomero-Rutunga route.
According to RFTC, all the abandoned and underserved routes with huge demand would get five to eight coaster buses, and minibuses in majority of the routes with unpaved roads.
These routes include Nyabugogo-Giticyinyoni- Nzove-Rutonde, which will get eight coaster buses, six coasters for the Batsinda-Gasanze route, and Kimironko-Zindiro-Masizi-Birembo-Kami route.
RFTC plans to deploy six regular minibuses on the Bumbogo-Gikomero-Rutunga route, as well as Giticyinyoni-Karama and Karuruma-Gihogwe-Jali routes.
Asked about concerns on the poor state of roads on the selected routes, Mr Kihangire said the Rwanda Transport Development Agency, City of Kigali and Ministry of Infrastructure had assured RFTC that the road infrastructure would be fixed as a matter of urgency