Bicycle taxi riders say license plate issue creates confusion

Bicycle-taxi users in Bujumbura city say they are confused by people who call themselves members of Solidarity of Bicycle Taxi of Burundi [SOTAVEBU] and impose fines on bicycle taxi users without license plates. The Transport Minister had suspended the measure to purchase them.

The bicycle taxi parking at the market commonly called COTEBU

The bicycle taxi parking at the market commonly called COTEBU

“Since last week, I was intercepted by people claiming to be security guards. They asked me where the license plate was and I replied that I didn’t have it. Then, they grabbed my bicycle. I was fined BIF 2000 to get it back. I work for fear of being caught again, “says Ezéchiel Mbarushimana, a bicycle taxi rider met at Bicycle Parking at the market commonly known as COTEBU. He says these people are demanding bicycle riders who do not have these license plates to pay BIF 10, 000, that is 2000 of fine and 8000 to purchase them.

Richard Mbonabuca, another bicycle taxi user, says those who impose sanctions say they work for SOTAVEBU. “I do not know these people. This association persecutes bicycle taxi riders instead of defending them. Its representatives do not consult us before making decisions that concern us, “Mbonabuca says.

He also says he is a member of SOTAVEBU by force. “A bicycle taxi user who rejects the measure taken by the representatives of this association or expresses an idea contrary to theirs is persecuted. Mbonabuca says he was surprised that members of SOTAVEBU impose sanctions against bicycle taxi users who did not buy plates while the Transport Minister has suspended the measure to purchase them.

In December 2016, the Mayor of Bujumbura ordered bicycle taxi riders to purchase license plates at a price of BIF 8000 each.

In January 2017, the Transport Minister suspended that measure saying that the department in charge of controlling the transportation section has not been consulted.

Violation of the law is punishable

The Director General of Transport, Jean Claude Mpawenimana asks the authorities of the Bujumbura City Council to take appropriate measures to enforce the decision taken by the Minister of Transport to suspend the purchase of license plates by bicycle taxi riders. Jean Claude Mpawenimana says the attitude of SOTAVEBU representatives is disruptive because they refuse to participate in the meetings to settle this matter. “We set up a committee to deal with the issue of bicycle taxi plates but it could not work because the representatives of these associations did not want to attend the meetings we organized”, he says

Mpawenimana says these representatives are creating “disorder”, which is punishable by the law. “We ask the authorities of the Bujumbura City Council to take legal actions against these people who do not want to respect the law.”