Have You Ever Wanted to Know The Future of Public Transport in Kigali, Rwanda?
The transport sector accounted for 23% of global energy-related GHG emissions in 2010 and some projections indicate that emissions from this sector could rise by 70% by 2050 worldwide (Sims, 2014). Many countries have signed treaties aimed to reduce the carbon emission percentages both on the national level and regional level. According to SDG13, the goal aims to mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries to both adapt to climate change and invest in low-carbon development. In that sense, Rwanda spearheaded that by aim at having a green city the capital Kigali alongside the green transport by 2040.
In early 2012, the City of Kigali was challenged by a rapid increase in congestion and air pollution on its roads, especially during peak periods. This was a direct result of high population growth and an exponential increase in private car ownership. Public transport services, consisting of bus, minibus, and motorcycle taxis (moto-taxi’s), were poor, largely informal and uncoordinated (Swanepoel, Mbari, 2014). The government in collaboration with relevant institutions both private and public they designed the Kigali city master plan which includes the transport master with the same goal and vision which is aligned with SDG 13 of sustainable development. The messy and poorly organized public transport in the city didn’t only cause chaos in the city but they also lead to tax invasion because there was no proper way to track these people in the transportation business. The government had to come to gather with relevant institutions restructure, plan and reinforce laws to guide public transport in Kigali.
The picture below was taken in 2006 and clearly describes the downtown taxi park that looked like then till 2014 when the new bus park was completed.
“In August 2013, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and the city of Kigali hired three public transport companies as in a way of making public transport more organized, safe, and clean” transport division manager said during his interview with New Times. The same year Rwanda moved from generation zero to generation one which was 7 years long plan according to the plan. In the generation zero, the city’s public transport was a total mess because everyone who had a car who just start a business to offer transport services in the city without the government’s approval and that disorganization caused unstable transport costs depending on the driver’s interest meaning there was no fixed cost for transport. Despite the poor organizational structure caused by the individual business folks there was poor infrastructure as we’ve seen in the above picture which would also be blamed on the side of the government.
Among the major things to tackle in order to implement Generation One, was to have both the public, private and private transport companies registered and work in cooperatives to be organized, RURA regulated laws in which these companies work under and follow. Rwanda Transport Development Agency under the Ministry of Infrastructure its role was (is) to build and provide the sustainable infrastructure that will facilitate the movement of goods and services. Whereas the city of Kigali divided the city into zones in which these companies will be operating from for the equal distribution of buses according to the demand in the particular zone. This generation has been into existence for seven years and marks the end of it according to the plan.
New Kigali bus taxi park. Source:vymaps.com
The revolutionary public transport
In August 2013 public transport in Kigali was completely reorganized. The city was divided into four transport zones which were tendered. Three companies won four five-year tenders (Kigali Bus Planet, 2020). Generation has paved the way for the rest of the other generations to follow in public transport in the capital Kigali. Kigali’s public transport decided to go cashless and then AC Group a privet company introduced Tap&GO cards in 2017. The Tap&Go card is used on all public buses in Kigali, you can simply buy the card from any service agent, load it with money and tap it on the card reader machine which is found at the bus entrance (Ku, 2020). The company did not only stop there but in the following year it instilled 4G WIFI network in all buses in the city hence making the services more efficient and attractive to the passengers.
The year 2020 marked the end of Generation 1 and now the sector is transitioning to Generation 2 which hight involves more bigger projects and many of them include technologies. Rwanda is revolutionalizing public transport and from next year we will be enjoying “2020” the next generation of public transport. The revolutionary public transport will start working the next year “2020”. Travelers will be able to get real-time information when the bus will arrive at the bus station (Gupta, 2019). Technology is disrupting how we move across the cities with the advent of ride-hailing cabs. It’s now making it’s way to public transport and Kigali Kigali is calling of public transport as Generation 2 (Gupta, 2019).
With the new system “Generation 2” you can get informed of the closest bus stop and the bus schedule. According to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), the bus schedule will be displayed on the wedsite indicating the bus schedule and the operational routes for the buses depending on the location. The main objective of Generation 2 is to offer faster and more convenient mobility to public transport services customers in the city in its 10 years long term plan. During the new Generation, buses will be monitored using GPS. This technology will help the institute in charge, RURA to track the activities and the performance for each of the buses. “We will be using Tech to manage the drivers. If we notice a delay we will call the driver and ask him why he is delaying the passengers” Engineer Emmanuel Asaba Kabanda stated the head of public transport at RURA.
Introduction of Dedicated Bus Lane
A timeline is proposed only for the BRT NAMA: it could commence implementation by 2022. The definition of clear rules and frameworks for the selected activities could be achieved by 2021 (Rwanda Climate Portal, 2020). Actual enforcement of the new standards and regulations cannot be forecast. The move aims at making public transport faster, reliable, and, more importantly, convenient. This will discourage the use of personal cars around the city and encourage people to ride with public transport on their daily activities around the city. This is because public transport will be faster and more convenient and it will enable the buses to make as many loops as possible hence attracting many more people to use it. The future of public transport in Kigali holds so much better and seamless experience to the resident with the new Kigali Master 2050 plan. I challenge all the cities to learn more Kigali adopt what applicable in their own cities across the continent. When good public transport is considered and planned well in the development of any city. It is clear that it is relevant to four Sustainable Development Goals which are SDG 3, SDG11, SDG12 and SG13.
- Sudmant, A. et al. (2017) “Private opportunities, public benefits? The scope for private finance to deliver low-carbon transport systems in Kigali, Rwanda”, Urban Climate, 20, pp. 59-74. doi: 10.1016/j.uclim.2017.02.011.
- Parking, D. (2020) Downtown Taxi Parking, Kigali (+250 788 808 002), Vymaps.com. Available at: https://vymaps.com/RW/Downtown-Taxi-Parking-16967/ (Accessed: 2 March 2020).
- ku, E. (2020) AC Group – Defining Smart Transport, Acgroup.rw. Available at: http://acgroup.rw/ (Accessed: 5 March 2020).
- Kigali – Bus-Planet.com (2020). Available at: http://www.bus-planet.com/aworldofbuses/buses-in-africa-nw/rwanda/kigali-2/ (Accessed: 1 March 2020).
- (2020) Africanvibes.com. (2029. Available at: https://www.africanvibes.com/rwanda-using-technology-to-transform-public-transport-in-kigali/ (Accessed: 1 March 2020).
- Minecofin.gov.rw. (2013). [online] Available at: http://www.minecofin.gov.rw/fileadmin/templates/documents/sector_strategic_plan/Transport__SSP_June_2013.pdf (Accessed: 1 March 2020).
- Masterplan2013.kigalicity. (2019). [online] Available at: http://www.masterplan2013.kigalicity.gov.rw/downloads/Docs/RWF1101_04_Kigali%20Transportation%20Master%20Plan_04062013-s.pdf (Accessed: 1 March 2020).
- NJW VAN ZYL, L SWANEPOEL and M BARI (2015). [online] Available at: https://repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/45589/VanZyl_Planning_2014.pdf?sequence=1 (Accessed: 1 March 2020).
- Improved transport infrastructure and services in Kigali | Rwanda Climate Portal. (2020). Available at: http://climateportal.rema.gov.rw/node/79 (Accessed: 5 March 2020).