Firms compete to offer smart transport options

Thursday November 22 2018

VW

Volkswagen’s transport app Move will enable customers to be chauffeured in brand new cars, with 150 cars earmarked for Kigali alone. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Thanks to the introduction of technological innovations in the transport sector, citizens have options as more companies try to outdo each other in introducing cheaper, more intelligent transport solutions in the market.

German automaker Volkswagen, which recently launched an assembling plant in the country, is currently piloting its transport app Move, which will enable customers to be chauffeured in brand new Volkswagen cars.

According to Volkswagen, the first fleet of cars earmarked for Kigali are estimated at 150 cars, but will be deployed gradually based on market demand.

The prices will start at Rwf450 per kilometre, with a base price of Rwf600 in Kigali. This will be the cheapest rate so far in the market.

“The pilot phase allowed us to see that our solution could work in Rwanda and it came at the right time, whether for citizens or tourists coming into the country for business or conferences in Rwanda.

“We want to ensure we deliver our part in driving Kigali into a smart city. We want to ensure that our solutions allow every citizen in the country to move at anytime, anywhere at an affordable price and in a SMART way” said Raissa Tuyisenge, adviser to the CEO VW Mobility Solutions Rwanda.

Other options are Yego Innovation Ltd’s Intelligent Connected Fare Metres (ICFM), which is installed in 95 per cent of taxicabs in Kigali, will be charging Rwf500 per kilometre in Kigali.

A different story

However, the tariffs for a trip outside Kigali are a different story. The first 150 kilometres are charged Rwf48,000, and then the customer is charged Rwf500 for every extra kilometre, which taxi drivers say makes them uncompetitive when compared to prices charged by other non-taxi transporters like rentals.

This is one of the issues at the centre of the current stalemate between taxi owners and Yego cabs.

The taxi drivers have come out to resist among other things the 10.5 per cent charged by Yego cabs on every customer, saying it is high yet they have to incur expenses including multiple taxes, parking, insurance and fuel.

“We are also local investors. We need to come to an agreement as opposed to coming up with all these charges and conditions and expecting us to just oblige,” said Bagorozi Felix, a taxi operator at Kisementi.

Aline Uwamahoro, the executive assistant to the CEO of Yego Innovation Ltd, said they are reviewing the set charges and are looking at how much they can reduce the metre charges by.

The system was supposed to be operational on November 1, but it had to be postponed to have enough time to review and come up with an agreeable charge.

Charges

“We proposed a charge of 10.5 per cent and Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority agreed. We put it in the agreement but the drivers complained that it’s too much for them and we suspended the charge. Until today we don’t have a fixed charge until we get to an agreement, whether 6.5 or 6 per cent” said Ms Uwamahoro.

The Yego cabs metre has an inbuilt system that enables a customer to pay digitally using a card, mobile money or cash, which is then paid to the taxi owner after 24 hours through mobile money, after Yego deducts its charges.

The company says the solution will increase the taxi drivers’ competitiveness, and enable them to easily tap into the clientele brought in by MICE, which many operators have been missing out on.

RURA in a statement said the 10.5 per cent is the cost of the metre including maintenance and possible replacement, and the cost of maintaining a 24/7 call centre, which connects Yego cabs to customers through a call system.

Global taxi-hailing firm Uber also recently expressed interest to start its operations in the country before the years ends. It is also recruiting a local country manager for Rwanda, which indicates that its entry plans are actualising.

RURA said other players have also formerly expressed interest in entering the Rwandan market, and will be given licenses after they meet the set requirements.

Tap & Go, a smart public transport solution by AC group, seems to be steadily addressing challenges that existed in the public transport system. They include plugging revenue leaks and increasing revenues for bus owners by over 30 per cent, while increasing efficiency and convenience for passengers.