Shortage of public transport vehicles persists in Kigali

Sunday April 09 2023

Transport operators say they are incurring losses due to increasing fuel costs and now want the government to bail them out. Picture: File

By Ange Iliza

Shortage of public vehicles have persisted in Kigali, subjecting commuters to untold suffering as high operation costs have  pushed some bus companies out of business.

With limited options for commuters, long queues are the order of the during at bus station during peak hours.

"If they increase the fare, I hope they will give a better service because with this situation, if the fare was higher, people would not pay for it. We are patient because this is the cheapest way to move in Kigali." Jean Damascene Shumbusho told Rwanda Today.

Operators claim that the Rwf50 billion subsidies offered by the government are not sufficient and that the business is no longer profitable.

The Association of Public Transporters of Rwanda (ATPR), a group of bus companies comprising 25 players, has raised concerns about the government subsidies that they receive, citing delays of up to two months in receiving their payment and inadequate compensation.

According to the ATPR, among the 1350 buses that were operational in 2020, half of them have been parked because operators cannot afford to keep them running.


This, they say, has resulted in poorly served public transport, with buses operating over capacity, leaving commuters struggling.

The government plans to scrap the current subsidy and renew the current tariff, which will result in an increase in the cost of public transport, putting a strain on commuters' wallets.

Minister for Infrastructure, Dr Ernest Nsabimana, has acknowledged that the subsidies have become a burden to the government and told Rwanda To- day that there are plans to review current tariffs and subsidies that go to public transport to reflect the actual cost of transport.

“We are still operating on 2018 tariffs because the government has invested in subsidies since 2021. We are planning to review the prices and reflect the cost of transport in the tariff,” Minister Nsabimana said.

Since 2021, the government has been paying nine francs per passenger per kilometre while the passenger pays Rwf21. The situation remains tense, with both the government and transport companies unwilling to budge on their positions.

As the dispute continues, commuters remain stranded and caught in the crossfire of the feuds.