Bus operators plying the Kampala – Kigali route are surprised by the very low passenger turn-up for travel after Rwanda fully reopened the border.
On Monday, Rwanda reopened its border after three years of closure, especially Katuna which is the one mainly used for passenger entry into and exit from Uganda, following the partial reopening for cargo a week earlier. But the reopening is under new guidelines.
The transport operators plying between Uganda and Rwanda have expressed disappointed over the passengers’ turn up which is far lower than they expected, compared to the time before the border was closed as well as the previous route history.
A Volcano manager we found on duty today who only identified himself as Fred says though there was a lot of excitement, the numbers are very disappointing yet they had very high expectations and the preparations for this day were very serious and done to perfection.
Fred says that most of the would-be passengers only come in for inquiries and to understand what operations are going to be like. He further says that they have not even increased the fares;
“For our bus which departs at 7 pm, we have so far booked only 12 people out of the 49, but we are still hopeful though this wasn’t our expectation,” he said.
According to Fred, before the border closure, the company used to have seven departures daily. He now attributes the low numbers to the low information flow as some people have not known about the reopening. He also reasons that the people had not prepared for travel but he is hopeful that things will change.
While that was the situation at the Volcano Bus Terminal, at that of Jaguar the administrators even declined to talk about the situation, but the terminal was almost deserted yet this is one of the major companies plying that route.
The situation was somehow better at the Trinity Bus Terminal. One official we found there commented off-record saying that the few passengers who were coming in were just consulting and by 2 pm a bus of 62 passengers at full capacity had 39 bookings yet it was departing at 8 pm.
Other bus companies that used to travel to Kigalui from other countries through Uganda had not yet revived their services for different reasons.
Penninah Munanura a booking office at Simba Buses said that they have not yet resumed the Kigali route, because they are scared of the uncertainties and they are waiting for other companies to start and they will also follow.
Munanura says the other time when the border partially opened, they immediately resumed but were stopped at the border, since issues were not clarified and this time round they dont want to be messed up again.
At Mash-Poa busses, the administrator found on duty said the company has since border closure put the Kigali route on hold and he is not aware if they will resume going there.
Under the new guidelines, no passenger will be allowed to cross into Rwanda without proof of vaccination against covid-19 and with a PRC test of not earlier than 72 hours. For those who don’t have it there is mandatory testing at the border before entering.