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Tourism: Expanded Rwanda - Tanzania bus service

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A Kigali-based bus company, Trinity Express, is in the final stages of launching new routes after becoming one of the largest operators between Kigali and Kampala in recent years.

For the early part of this year, the company is now eyeing Dar es Salaam in Tanzania before later on adding Bujumbura in neighboring Burundi and Goma in Eastern Congo, according to company executive Twahirwa.

Travel by air is for many people beyond their means, and in the absence of rail travel, Rwanda remains disconnected from the East African rail network until the recently-launched standard gauge railways track reaches the country all the way from Mombasa via Nairobi, the Ugandan border, and Kampala.

The route by road runs along what is known as the Central Transport Corridor and will be crossing into Tanzania at the just-opened, one-stop, common border point at Rusumo, where a few months ago a new bridge was opened, both generously financed by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency JICA.

Long distance bus travel is a common means of transport for many locals across the East African Community because it is affordable, but has of late been rivaled by low-cost airlines where the cheapest tickets on domestic routes in Tanzania sell for US$20 plus taxes, while on their regional routes the lowest fare is available at US$50 plus taxes, which amount to almost as much courtesy of extortionate taxes and dues levied by national aviation regulators and airports. In Kenya, low fares are also available when flying with that country’s LCC but again only when booked early enough and when shown as available on the system, rivaling bus fares for instance between Nairobi and Mombasa. Train travel between Nairobi and Mombasa, once a double-daily event and popular for the relatively safe and cheap mode of travel, have reduced to just three a week and no longer play a major role in long-distance transport.

In a December 11 directive, the Heads of State of Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya directed that all obstacles in granting traffic rights for airlines registered in the three countries be lifted and route rights be granted even for domestic routes, not just regional routes. This, however, has yet to yield results to make flying more affordable and pull larger numbers of passengers from road to air transport, mainly because of further obstructions by in particular the Kenyan regulators.

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