Kigali City is soon going to be home to construction site of East and Central Africa’s largest and by extension the most ultra-modern rapid bus transit hub if highly ambitious plans by a local leading transport services provider is anything to go by.
Surface transport industry in sub- sahara Africa is multi- million dollar cut throat business. One major character common to operators in the region is the chaotic, congested, disorganized and even mafia like operations of these hubs.
Another major characteristic common to these hubs is fact that they are often run by a cartel of shadowy characters .Not the case with Rwanda.
Kigali city’s largest and busiest bus terminus otherwise known as the Nyabugogo bus park stands as an exception to chaos and confusion characterizing African transport hubs.
The operators of Nyabugogo Bus Park are taking their exceptional conduct and modus operandi a notch higher by busy planning a major face-lift of the facility.
Following in the footsteps of Kigali down town project and chic building both in Muhima neibhourhood is a mixed use development by transport services provider Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC).
The cooperative led by Rtd. Col Ludovic Dodo Twahirwa is working on final preconstruction program of a massive piece of property known as the Nyabugogo Bus Terminus (NBT) project.
Preliminary designs of the project indicate according to investment analysts, that the NBT project is set to be second grandest property development in Rwanda after the iconic Kigali Convention Centre.
When I was shown the sketches for the architectural design studies that was commissioned by RFTC, I was immediately struck by its massive scale and ambitions.
Dr. Manlio Michieletto senior lecturer at School of Architecture College of science and Technology University of Rwanda who developed the basic sketches of the NBT project followed keenly Rwanda’s ambitions of thinking big and going green to outsmart its neighbors.
“For sure the NBT project can be said to be one of Rwanda’s highly ambitious but achievable project. Sustainability is at core of its concept,”Manlio says adding that, “the nucleus of the project that is the bus station is designed to accommodate other related components”.
Manlio adds; “From its current status as an old bus park, the idea is to develop a profitable modern well organized infrastructure with complement facilities where travelers can meet everything they need during their requirement to transit to, within, around and from Kigali city in line with the Kigali conceptual master plan”.
According to preliminary project design plans are being made by RFTC to construct a 66,000 square metre five storeyed complex to accommodate the new bus station.
The redesigned bus station is composed of three major components. The first component is the local feeder bus system (LFBS). This is a component that emanates from and serves the Kigali city routes such as Nyamirambo, Gisozi, Kicukiro, Remera, Gikondo among other city suburbs.
The second component is the proposed bus rapid transport (BRT) system. The BRT is the system that services buses that are on transit to the secondary cities of Rwanda such as Muhanga, Nyanza, Musanze, Gisenyi and others.
The last component is the international bus terminus (IBT). The IBT serves buses and travelers getting into and out of Rwanda such as Uganda, Burundi and Kenya.
The entire design is meant to cope up with future needs of Kigali City as a modern metropolis according to Col Twahirwa adding that RFTC will break grounds for construction by early 2019.
“The project is a reflection of the extent of Rwanda’s ambition to show the region modernity in surface transport and management”.
Afande Dodo says that RFTC has already set aside over 40 percent of equity funds needed for first phase of the project and those discussions with other major stakeholders including the city of Kigali and central authorities point to fact that things are moving according to set plans.
“The special purpose vehicle for executing the project is in place. We have over US$40 million ready to inject as promoters equity funds”.
However, despite its huge ambitions and the assembly of a multi- agency project team and deep pocketed investors and high level political support , numerous huge challenges awaits the construction phase of the project.
This is due to fact that the NBT project sits right on the mouth of an expansive wetland. In addition, River Nyabarongo snakes its way through project site further providing challenges in design and construction of structures needed to transition it into a modern hub.
If one were to consider all its major components and stated objectives the estimated cost of NBT project comes to approx. US$200 million according to estimates by the project team.