October 22, 2020

Regulator Bends To Popular Pleas Over High Transport Fares

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Following an outcry from the public, the proposed fares rise will be suspended, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, has announced.

Earlier, in response to sustained complaints, mostly on social media, RURA had responded that the fare rises had been “carefully considered”, apparently indicating that the decision would stand.

It now seems that people’s pleas have been heard.

“Following consultations with stake holders led by the Prime Minister, RURA wishes to announce that implementation of the 2020 public transport tariff revision announced on 14th October 2020 has been suspended in order to monitor the pace of economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic” read a statement.

The “stake holders” in question no doubt include public transport providers, whose losses due to measures to prevent the spread of the virus, were a major consideration in the decision to raise the fares.

The government finds itself with a difficult balance to make: how to keep the fares low for people, while compensating public transport providers for their losses. Raising fares seemed the most obvious answer.

Perhaps predictably however, public transport users saw it differently, most complaining that they too, had suffered losses.

The public however will still pay more, albeit indirectly, as the government tries to shield the public from higher fares, and public transport providers from further losses.

For the first time in the country, public transport will, for the time being, be subsidised.

“In the interim” continued the statement, “the Government of Rwanda will subsidise the cost of public transport to account for the economic effects of the pandemic on passengers.”

“The following tariffs will take effect on Friday, 23rd October 2020: City of Kigali 22rwf/km; the rest of the country, 21rwf/km.”

It is a measure of how Covid-19 is affecting the economy, that in the normal course of events, the fare rises might have been generally accepted, as a normal annual increase, unwelcome, but expected.

The pandemic it seems has also changed attitudes. Perhaps, too, the government may be a victim of its policy to support people as much as possible, creating expectation that more help will come, if asked for ardently enough.

For further information on the announcement, passengers can telephone the transport services hotline on 2222.

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