New Inclusive Public Buses Raise Optimism Among Persons with Disabilities

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Africa, Transportation, September 5 2019

RWANDA: For Jean Bosco Nzaramba, a person living with disability who loves to travel, using public transportation used to be a hustle. “It was difficult to find comfortable seats. Sometimes the last seat on the bus would be in between people. I had to seat and bare the discomfort until I got to my destination,” Nzaramba said. For those more handicapped than him, he said, it was worse. “Some couldn’t climb the steps so they had to get someone to carry them on to the bus.”

Persons in wheelchairs boarding a bus in Rwanda

Nyiringabo Theodone and Muhirwa Hashim board a bus at Kacyiru bus park on August 30. Emmanuel Kwizera.

However, the move by  — one of the public transport operators—to introduce buses with provisions for people with disabilities has raised optimism.

The company recently unveiled 11 new buses with provisions such as ramps that aid people with disabilities to board and disembark with ease. The buses also have special seats reserved for people with disabilities. Innocent Twahirwa, the Public Relations Officer of RFTC, said that: “Each bus can accommodate up to six people with disabilities.” The company plans to import 30 more similar buses, he said.

The buses will be deployed on 11 of the 30 routes in Kigali. RFTC staff underwent training with people from China on how to assist people with disabilities in getting bus services, Twahirwa said. Theodone Nyiringabo, also living with disability was pleased with the launch. “I complained about this but now I am happy that what I wanted was granted,” he said.

Emmanuel Ndayisaba, Executive Secretary National Council of Persons with Disabilities, said the new buses were a times response to passengers with disabilities. In the past, people living with disabilities complained about difficulty in travelling. According to Ndayisaba, some were even being charged an extra fee for their wheelchairs.

“It is good that the transportation issue is being solved,” he said. Clever Gatete, the Minister for Infrastructure, says the government has bigger plans to help people with disabilities. “We are working on making better roads, investing in bus park facilities and an orderly bus system to help people with disabilities,” Gatete said, adding that other transport companies in Kigali were also planning to bring similar buses.

The minister said he hoped for the buses to get electric means to open the slides to make it faster. Gatete pledged that similar services will be rolled out on buses that ply the countryside.

Originally Published in The New Times

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