Walking nation: Shortage of buses hits public transport

Tuesday November 29 2022

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 transport vehicles as hit Kigali, subjecting commuters to untold suffering when accessing different parts of the capital city.

While the regulator, The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) has pledged to deal with the crisis, long queues is the order of the day at the bus stops.

Since the beginning of the year, commuters have had to endure long queues and delays as operators reduced their fleets citing very high operating costs after enduring months of a shutdown attributed to Covid-19 pandemic.

A mini survey by Rwanda Today showed that in major bus parks in Kigali, a commuter spends up to two hours in a queue waiting for a bus. The busiest lines commute between business centers and residential areas. Morning and evening hours are the busiest.

While Rura responsible for contracting transport companies did not respond to Rwanda Today’s request for what is going on, operators attribute the shortage to insufficient buses that have such as the Kimironko-Zindiro line, commuting to new neighbourhoods.

Transport companies said the situation had been made worse by rising fuel prices despite the government subsidy. As a result, some operators are exiting the business to curb losses that have resulted in a shortage of buses.


Managing director of Jali Transport, Innocent Twahirwa, one of the main transporters in Kigali, told Rwanda Today that there is still a shortage of uses but the company has ordered buses from abroad that are yet to arrive.

“We have ordered new buses to expand our fleet. They will not be enough for us to expand to any other zone but our zones will be sufficiently catered for,” said Mr Twahirwa.

The bus company operates in zones 3 and 4 that expand throughout some of the busiest spots in Kigali including Nyabugogo and DownTown business centers, Kinironko, and Nyamirambo. Kigali has four zones.

Since 2015, only three transport companies including Kigali Bus Service and RFTC have been licensed to operate in Kigali. The number of licensed companies and bus fleets has barely increased for seven years to meet the demand.

Kigali, on the other hand, sees a 3 percent population growth per year and is home to 1.2 million population, according to the National Institute of Statistics. 97 percent of Kigali residents who use public transport are bound to be affected by public transport inconveniences.

Official data by Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority show that only 1 percent of Kigali residents use private transport and 3 percent use taxi.