It seems, finally, the technology Kigalians have been hearing about since early last year is here, though quite later than had been anticipated.
Nearly 20,000 Motos operating from Kigali, with effect from August 15, will not decide how much their passengers pay. The back-and-forth bargaining between the two sides, that has marked the industry, is coming to and end.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) announced in a statement this Wednesday evening that all Motos operating in Kigali must have a Meter installed. The price to be paid by passenger will be calculated by the Meter.
The system has several caveats; for the first 2km, passenger pays an automatic Rwf 300. And then after this distance, the Meter will begin to add Rwf 133.
The Meters have already been in use and passengers were using them, but the bargaining still existed as well. Effective August 15, payment by Meter will be mandatory.
There is an interesting addition to the Meter program for passengers; you can stop anywhere and you will not be charged for 10 minutes of that time.
In other words, you can drop by a shop to pick an item, or stop to answer a phonecall off the Moto. As long as the stoppage time is less than 10 minutes, the meter will stop counting.
But again, the moment the 10 minutes elapse, for every minute of the stoppage, passenger pays Rwf 21, a small amount – but will make a whole lot difference for the riders.
At the beginning of last year, government via the ICT and Innovation Ministry announced that all Motos countrywide would be installed with Meters. The payment scheme was supposed to begin in July 2019.
It meant that all the nearly 100,000 Motos countrywide would have the gadget.
Despite months of preparation, involving Police and RURA, it seems, the authorities decided to start with Kigali – and maybe slowly extend to other regions in due course.
As for payment once the Meter has calculated the transport rate, already Motos are accepting payments only by phone transfer. It is a measure adopted by the industry regulator as part of COVID-19 control measures by removing the use of cash.
In Rwanda, all public buses in Kigali and some upcountry routes only accept transport fare payment via the ‘Tap&Go’ system, where each passenger taps a card loaded with cash on a gadget at entrance of the bus.
As for taxi cabs, apart from those owned by German carmaker Volkswagen where payment is via phone App, every other cab is supposed to belong to the YEGO Cabs company, where payments are determined by Meters installed in all of them.
Huge fines, or even being removed from the industry altogether, await cab drivers that flout the payment system.
So far, despite revenues for cab drivers going down, the service of the industry has significantly improved for the better. It will be months after to be able to determine how the Meter payment system will affect the Moto industry.
Most of the Moto riders would have gotten the motorcycle via loan schemes, or working for other owners who may sometimes have more than one Motorcycle in the business. Others ride Motos of associations.
The Moto industry is huge, employing tens of thousands, feeding thousands more families.
The industry is worth more than a $1billion dollars, according to some estimates.