Kigali, like many urban centres in Rwanda, has seen a rapid increase in the number of bicycle taxi operators on roads that are not designed to accommodate cyclists.
Kigali has an estimated 2,000 cyclists. Areas like Nyabugogo, Gatsata, Kinamba and Niboye are filled with hundreds of bicycle taxis. Secondary cities like Musanze, Rubavu, Nyagatare and Huye also boast a large number of bicycle taxis. The cyclists compete for road space with motorists, cars and pedestrians.
The cyclists are mainly young people from the lower social class, school dropouts and rural- urban migrants who find the business attractive because of the relatively low capital investment and maintenance costs. Bicycles don't need fuel to run and the riders don't pay taxes from their earnings.
Pascal Itangishaka, who operates a bicycle taxi, said he earns between Rwf3,000 ($3.27) and Rwf4,000 ($4.36) daily. Pascal is married with a kid and expecting another. His first born, a 4- year-old is in nursery school. After paying rent, school fees and supplies for this family, Pascal manages to save Rwf3,000 every month.
There are over 5000 operators in Kigali and six secondary cities. They can generate Rwf 10 million daily or Rwf 3.6 billion annually. But most of that is not taxable by the government.
According to unspecified reports, it was President Kagame who ordered that cyclists be left alone to ply their trade. While in Parliament for a swearing-in ceremony, the President made some general comments regarding the rising road accidents and asked officials responsible to investigate their causes. He added that while bicycles had been blamed for the accidents, it might not be the case.