Government addresses Kigali transport shortage as lockdown eases

By Nicole Kamanzi M.
On 6 May 2020 at 11:58

Public transport system in Kigali had more demand than supply on Monday May 5, as the lockdown was eased, leaving many passengers stranded across the city.

The demand followed a decision by the government to lift the COVID-19 lockdown on Monday.

Public buses were required to carry fewer passengers in order to observe social distancing. The transport challenge was partly a result of the fact that only about 60 percent of the fleet of public buses in Kigali were available and motorbikes are still not allowed to operate, increasing the demand for buses.

Rwanda Utilities and Regulator Agency (RURA) Director General Patrick Nyirishema said that starting Tuesday 5th May, public transport companies in Kigali have resumed 100 percent operation.

This means that there are currently over 400 public transport buses operating within the city that has yet to satisfy the demand especially because of the social distancing measures.

Nyirishema said that if it is deemed necessary, they will consider adding more buses to the Kigali network from firms licensed to operate between Kigali and other provinces which are still not operational.

The demand could go down in coming days as the excitement on the partial lifting of the lockdown goes down. In coming days, it is anticipated that the ‘thirst’ could die down and consequently reduce the pressure on public transport.

Transport firms who are back to work after weeks of lockdown had to increase their fares following consultation with the regulator. This was done with the purpose to cushion them from loss as their carrying capacity has been halved; for a passenger vehicle that previously carried 70 people now takes 32.

Nyirishema said that the increase of fares was challenging to work out but was aided by the recent drop in oil prices which reduces the operating cost of transport companies.

Nyirishema added that the status quo allows transport companies to remain operational to serve the public.

Innocent Twahirwa, the Managing Director of Jali Transport, which owns RFTC said that the new situation will require order at bus parks and patience from commuters.

Public transport system in Kigali had more demand than supply on Monday May 5, as the lockdown was eased, leaving many passengers stranded across the city.
Public buses were required to carry fewer passengers in order to observe social distancing.

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