Passengers go through terrible ordeal at bus stations following fuel shortage

Long queues at the northern Bujumbura bus stop

Long queues at the northern Bujumbura bus stop

Scuffles, frustrations, quarrels…. are noticed at the north bus stop in Bujumbura city center. Long queues of passengers are built up at different bus stops. Pupils, civil servants, everyone rushes to go back home. But a shortage of buses is observed; they come in small numbers due to the shortage of fuel. Some agents in uniform are trying to get things in order. It is not easy, all passengers must line up. Some of them refuse while others follow the instructions. They threaten to use force. “I have just spent an hour and a half and I do not even know if I am going to get a bus to go back home,” says a resident living in “Mutanga Nord”, northern Bujumbura neighborhood. A student says she has just spent two hours at the bus stop waiting for the bus. “I have been waiting for the bus since 5p.m., I do not even know if I am going to get time to review my studies,” he says. “Seeing the small number of buses transporting passengers, I am not sure my children will eat tonight. I wanted to go home to give money to buy something to eat but cannot make it now,” says a mother of five.

However, the passengers accuse the people charged with ensuring order of favoritism. “It is frustrating to see a person jumping the queue”, says angrily a passenger at the stop of buses going to the north of the capital.

One of the agents says they did that to protect young children and pregnant women. “We cannot allow youths to push children and pregnant women and we must protect them by letting them get on the bus,” he says. For them, buses using fuel oil should complete those which consume gasoline.

Charles Ntirampeba, secretary general of the Burundi Association of Transport says the shortage of buses due to fuel scarcity is beyond their competence. “From this Monday 8 May, the shortage of fuel has been added to the lack of gasoline. We don’t know how to handle these long queues”, he says.

Ntirampeba says some measures have been imposed. “Some buses from less crowded neighborhoods of the capital and those from the countryside must complete buses carrying passengers to more crowded areas”, he says.

Following the shortage of fuel these few months, the Minister of Energy and Mining had announced that petroleum products will now be distributed only at fuel stations and in daytime from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.