But missed milestones signal more bumps on the road
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Tondeka Metro Company (TMC) which wants to introduce public transport buses in the Kampala city metropolitan area has signed an operating management contract with Rose Hill Transport (RHT) Holding Ltd of Mauritius.
Under the contract, RHT Holding, which has many years of experience in managing public transport buses in Mauritius and other countries, will over three years guide the management operations of TMC.
RHT will draw up a strategic management structure and resource management plans, develop an operations manual and driver training curriculum, drive the recruitment of TMC management team, and oversee development of required infrastructure.
Signing of the contract was done virtually on Oct.27 by TMC Chairman Peter Kimbowa and RHT Chief Executive Officer, Siddharth Sharma.
RHT Holding was the first bus company to be incorporated in Mauritius in 1954. Previously known as Rose Hill Transport (RHT) Group, it has since diversified into other businesses in corporate venturing and investment in property and equities of blue-chip companies trading on the SEM as well as in international funds. It was listed on the Development and Enterprise Market of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius in 2006.
TMC Chairman Kimbowa said working with RHT will bring numerous advantages to TMC.
“They are among the most reputable companies in Mauritius,” he said.
He added that RHT Holdings have demonstrated a proven expertise in bus operations and fleet management while carrying the latest technologies in terms of security and bus localisations, and cashless payments.
“By teaming with RHT Holding Ltd, we are nourishing our ambition to create a centre of excellence in Africa,” he said, “We are hoping to be the first to achieve that.”
Sharma said RHT Holding was absolutely delighted that TMC has chosen to do business with them.
“This project is a game changer for the bus transport industry in Uganda,” he said, “The Tondeka team has put a lot of effort in the ground work for this very important project.”
He said despite the COVID situation the RHT is agile and well positioned to fully meet the requirements of the project.
He said Mauritius is renowned for its ease of doing business strategy and the government is encouraging and incentivising Mauritian companies to export their expertise and savoir-faire to the African continent in a bid to create as much South-South collaboration as possible.
“For companies who can make a difference, it could spell the brightest of futures for us and our African brethren,” he said.
He said the sheer size of the African market offers huge opportunities to the best and leading companies in terms of market, labour, and raw materials.
On paper, the passenger bus transport business in Kampala looks like a good deal now and more in the future. The Kampala-Mukono route alone has an estimated ridership of 462,418 daily.
With a population projected to hit 4.5 million people by 2023, the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area is ripe for the Bus Rapid Transit System.
The area is currently served by over 100,000 motorcycle taxis (bodaboda) and over 16,000 matatu taxi minibuses, operating in over 100 unregulated parking spots along main roads.
The matatu taxis are just 30% of all the 400,000 vehicles estimated to ply the city’s 1,200km of road, 80% of which is in bad condition. Many would be passengers walk long distances, ride bicycles, or drive private cars.
The result is chaos due to unscheduled operations, unclear fares, and poor service. The city is jammed with vehicles even in off-peak hours and the rate of pedestrian accidents is among the highest in Africa.
The only bus service is offered by a limping company; Pioneer Easy Bus, which was launched in 2012 and is operated by relatives of President Yoweri Museveni. According to testimony in parliament from its Director, Albert Muganga, up to 60% of its fleet of 100 buses is grounded.
Muganga blames the chaos and traffic jam on the road for his company’s troubles.
“A bus would do 300km a day but today it does only 100km,” he told parliament, “Most of the time you are in traffic jam; all we need was priority lanes.”