Rwanda: Kigali needs more than 500 buses to solve public transport problems

More than 500 buses are needed to help end public transport problems in the city of Kigali, revealed Emmanuel Katabarwa, the city engineer.

Speaking on the national broadcaster on Sunday July 31, he said out of the existing fleet currently there is a shortfall of 271 public buses.

“We are working with RURA, RTDA so that we can incentivize existing private transport operators to bring more buses to the areas in a few weeks as there may be buses that are inactive or may not be used efficiently.

We are identifying all the buses that might be available and using them appropriately,” he said.

RURA is Rwanda’s Utilities Regulatory Authority, while NTDA is the National Transport Development Agency.

In 2019, RURA launched a tender calling on investors to address public transport complaints in the second generation transport system.

However, Katabarwa said the assessment showed that no investor was found to have sufficient financial capacity and all that was requested to address public transport issues.

He said the 500 buses needed in the capital should each carry 70 to 39 passengers.

“The Covid-19 which also broke out affected public transport operators,” he said.

Need a passenger information system

He said there was a need for a passenger information system.

“Today someone may have missed a bus, but there is a bus that is parked somewhere in the bus station.

The system could help to know when there are passengers in bus routes and terminals to deploy buses,” he said.

Innocent Twahirwa, the managing director of Jali transport Ltd, which operates in two of the city’s four public transport zones, said he would buy more than 70 buses.

“We are on the same table to solve transport problems. There should be more public buses depending on the demand. However, we also need dedicated bus lanes because there may be buses, but the congestion can affect transport efficiency,” he said, adding that they haven’t bought any new buses since 2019.

“We have now ordered over 70 buses which could arrive in January next year. We already have 202 buses in our areas. Buses can help during peak hours. In addition to dedicated bus lanes, we also have need a passenger information system for better management, he said.

Fabrice Barisanga, head of transport at the ministry of infrastructure, said 215 km of roads are being built or upgraded to facilitate transportation in the city in addition to increasing buses.

“RURA will soon announce the number of buses on the routes,” he said.

Deo Muvunyi, the Acting Director General of RURA said the average waiting time for a bus is currently worse at between 30 and one hour.

“There are few buses in addition to other factors that affect public transport. We are working on the issue of bus shortages,” he said.

Mérard Mpabwanamaguru, the deputy mayor in charge of urbanization and infrastructure of the city of Kigali recently revealed that since 2013, when three public transport companies were selected to serve all Kigali routes, public buses have been reduced to a third of the original fleet.

“Some are no longer roadworthy, others have been retired due to the impact of Covid-19 among others,” he said.

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