Rwanda public transport firm yet to cover all rural routes

Saturday May 27 2017

RITCO buses are now plying more rural routes. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

RITCO buses are now plying more rural routes. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By Johnson Kanamugire

Transport operators on major upcountry routes face increased competition from the recently-launched private-public-owned transporter, which continues to win over travellers.

In March, Rwanda Interlink Transport Company (RITCO) Ltd deployed the first of its fleet upcountry comprising of more than 53 ultra-modern 56-seater buses together with 30 coasters and 22 former ONATRACOM-operated buses.

RITCO replaced the now defunct government transport company, which used to ply routes in the country’s remotest parts but was bogged down by mismanagement.

Majority of the new RITCO buses are deployed in upcountry paved routes connecting provincial urban centres to the capital, along with a few rural unpaved roads that get a lot of traffic. Though yet to expand to its targeted plan of operations, the company runs 166 buses in total.

Rural public transport users expected RITCO’s entry to first prioritise rural unpaved roads, which were abandoned by private operators after the fall of its predecessor.


However, in a field survey carried out last week by Rwanda Today, it was established that many far-flung rural routes are yet to be connected to its transport system as the fleet is mostly visible on paved national roads already served by a number of private operators.

“Normally we deploy according to demand but, we plan to deploy buses across the country,” said Julius Rukundo, Ritco managing director.

The country’s over 60 licensed public transport companies and co-operatives are largely concentrated in urban and paved national roads.

So far, an estimated 60 per cent of the routes previously served by ONATRACOM across the country have received RITCO buses and about 20 per cent are in rural, unpaved routes.