Business in Rubavu District almost came to a standstill recently as owners of vehicle rushed to have their automobiles inspected for mechanical faults, by the mobile mechanical test lane, which has been shifted to serve vehicles in and around the region.
Vehicle owners attest that relocating the Mobile Test Lane to Rubavu and having their vehicles inspected from areas of their business operation, has saved them money, time and makes their businesses easier.
Some of the beneficiaries say that the least they could spend trekking to Kigali to have their automobiles inspected was about Rwf70, 000 in a single day.
“My inspection certificate still has a month to expire but when I heard that the mobile mechanical test lane was coming to Rubavu, I had to exploit the opportunity because am saving not less that Rwf100, 000 that I was spending driving to Kigali for the same service,” Jean Byiringiro, a taxi-driver in Rubavu, says.
“Basically, I could spend Rwf50, 000 on fuel to and from Kigali, Rwf20, 000 for lodgement a night and sometimes I could stay there for two night, not forgetting money for meals; in any way, you have to have Rwf100, 000 on you to drive hundreds of miles to Kigali, which is costly in many ways including time and the days you will not work,” he adds.
“Assume my vehicle has a mechanical problem and I am required to fix it before I get the certificate, it would not take me much time to do that here and return for clearance but if I was in Kigali, it would come with extra costs, meaning I would spend extra night there. Having a mobile service of any kind is a sign of service excellence and easing doing business.”
His testimony is shared with many other car owners in the area.
To Frorien Niyigena, whose car failed four tests, he looks at this on a positive side.
“Although my car was not cleared due to detected mechanical faults, I am home and the money I would have spent traveling to Kigali will be used to service the car. Just imagine the faults that have been detected, maybe it would have caused me an accident driving that long distance to Kigali for inspection. We are happy that we can acquire these services from our place of business,” says Niyigena.
The mechanical report indicated that Niyigena’s car had faulty brakes, lights, imbalanced axles, loose handbrake and transmission faults among others.
Another beneficiary, Privat Ineza, whose cab passed the tests and acquired a certificate, said it was the first time he had his car tested from Rubavu.
“Previously I had to travel to Kigali but today, it took me only 25 minutes in line and to have my car inspected and cleared, now I am going back to work. Car owners should seize this chance, even if you still have your certificate…this is a life-saving service and mechanical faults won’t wait for the certificate to expire. I think it’s always wise to know the status of your vehicle like you know your health status,” said Ineza.
The Mobile Test Lane, which supplements other mechanical inspection centres in Kigali and Rwamagana District, has the capacity to inspect a minimum of 100 vehicles per day. It will be stationed in Rubavu for at least ten days to serve vehicles in and around the district.
Senior Supt. Bernardin Nsengiyumva who is in charge of the Motor Vehicle Mobile Test Lane says that, for a vehicle to merit for a certificate it has to pass all the seven inspections.
They include side slip testing, shock absorber, brakes including handbrake, Axle play detection, headlights, and visual inspection of the vehicle’s body condition.
The side slip system is used to measure the wheel alignment settings, tyre conicity and other wheel run-out conditions while the Axle play detector is designed to check efficiently and rapidly most steering and suspension components.
“The lane is automated in a way that it can report errors but running it still required exceptional skills; this is why, all police officers running it have acquired extensive trainings. When car owners bring them, the officers are the one to drive them to the lane because they know how to park it and the procedures that follow,” said SSP Nsengiyumva.
“Ever since vehicle mechanical inspection services were introduced in 2008, accidents resulting from mechanical faults have tremendous reduced and we encourage people not to wait for police to enforce the law which involves penalizing them,” he noted.
The Motor Vehicle Mobile Test Lane rotates in the three provinces of Western, Southern and Northern.
The Eastern Province is served by the motor vehicle inspection lane based at Police Training School in Gishari.
“Within 10 days, we will have tested 1, 000 vehicles on average before we relocate to another province…. our experience is, Rwandans now know the importance of having their vehicles inspected. Wherever we take the lane, they show up in big numbers,” SSP Nsengiyumva said.
The centres also serves foreign registered vehicles, whose owners want to check and maintain the status of their automobiles.
Rwanda National Police started its vehicle inspection services in 2008 when the first two lanes were established at Remera Mechanical Inspection Centre (MIC), then with the capacity to inspect only 150 vehicles per day.
Currently with three lanes at Remera MIC, Mobile Test Lane and one lane in Gishari, the inspections have increased to about 800 daily.
Last year, for example, inspections increased by about 27 percent to 96, 283, up from 75, 839 inspections in 2014. RNP plans to have the two new lanes fully functional by November at Remera MIC and establish others in regions, to service the increasing number of automobiles in the country.