RITCO prioritising rural public transport
Written by: Nsamaza Steven
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016, 6:16
To enhance public transport in the country, the Government of Rwanda and the Rwanda Federation Transport Cooperatives (RFTC), the biggest body in public transport formed a Public-Private-Partnership to create RITCO replacing the defunct ONATRACOM which had failed its mission.
Rwanda Interlink Transport Company Limited (RITCO) is a Public-Private-owned Transporter established to mitigate public transport in rural and urban areas. The company was born in May 2016 following the dissolution of ONATRACOM which failed its socio-economic mission due to high institutional and operating costs, as well as poor management of the institution.
Through an audit in 2012 by Ernest & Young, the auditing firm found out that ONATRACOM has been operating at an abnormal operational loss; the revenues generated from the current operations did not suffice to curb outstanding arrears. As of 2013, the institution had accumulated almost Rwf 5 billion in arrears related to suppliers, taxes and social security contributions liabilities.
“We partnered with the government to revive public transport mostly after the state-run public transporter failed,” said Retired Colonel Dodo Twahirwa, the Chairman of RTFC which brings together 12 transport cooperatives. “Our federation is the biggest and most experienced passenger transporter in the country.”
The Government of Rwanda holds 52 per cent shareholding in RITCO while Rwanda Federation Transport Cooperatives owns 48 per cent. To improve the management of the new company distinct from the old, RFTC is charged with running the daily management of the company with a private sector touch but mandated to continue providing public transport services, especially in rural areas.
The Minister of Infrastructure, James Musoni while announcing the joint venture said that buses from the dissolved ONATRACOM will be increased with new ones and be managed by RITCO to enhance public transport network, better service delivery, reduction of time on bus stops and lead to a sustainable and competitive business model.
RITCO aims to become a regional transporter but will primarily start by serving local areas prioritising rural populations and after acquiring its targeted buses commence operations to regional countries.
Rukundo Julius, the Managing Director of RITCO emphasised that, they are bringing proper dynamic management with years of experience in public transport and with a private sector orientation. Rukundo who has several years of experience in public transport has previously worked with ATRACO before he joined RTFC where he was when appointed to head the new company.
“Our primary objective is to facilitate the rural populations linking them to urban areas,” Rukundo notes, adding that they are ready to provide the best service across the country.
The company’s social mandate is expected to be conducted in private and enterprising way where the company expects to make profits along the way because that is the only way transport services will improve.
According to the Managing Director of RITCO, given the country’s progress in the last 22 years after the liberation, every Rwandan has the ability not to walk because they can now afford pay for transportation unlike in the past. This translates into big business but rural transportation lacks investment.
Currently, the new company is servicing 36 routes which are expected to increase when they acquire more buses. Orders to procure new buses have already been made and RITCO is expecting about 50 buses in the first phase by September or early October this year.
Target investment is 180 buses expected to be purchased in phases and each bus will have a loading capacity of at least 56 passengers with their luggage.
The new buses will be categorised in two classes, VIP class to transport people who do not wish to travel in countryside with their own cars and second class buses that will serve ordinary people with affordable rates. The services also include luggage compartments unlike the current buses used in public transport in the country
Kihangiye Bishop, the operations manager of RITCO says that, the arrival of new buses will give passengers travel comfort with their luggage from the initial boarding to their final destination because routes will be reaching to the last point.
“Traders from rural areas have been experiencing difficulties when they come to town to purchase goods and their mode of transport cannot load their merchandise,” Kihangiye said. Countryside traders spend more money paying for private cars which transport commodities from Kigali and other country cities to their destinations.
RITCO will also introduce electronic ticketing systems that are embedded with checks and balances, the system will be monitored remotely. The new systems to be introduced are all aimed to improve management of the company operations.
The Managing Director, Mr. Rukundo emphasised that before the end of 2016 Rwandans along the routes operated by RITCO will have started to feel a superb service on-offer and populations deeper in rural Rwanda are more likely to be the first beneficiaries of the changing public transport.