AC Group Struggles To Fix Kigali Bus Internet Crisis #rwanda #RwOT

It has emerged that on Wednesday late night till morning, technicians from AC Group Company were dispatched to Kigali’s largest bus terminal, Nyabugogo. Their assignment was to fix routers in buses and reload them with internet ahead of a cosmetic public relations stunt.

After a year-long investigation Taarifa had earlier revealed commuters were not accessing internet for several months in over 450 buses yet a mandatory Rwf10 for internet is deducted from every passenger whether they use it or not.

AC Group Company trashed Taarifa findings in a wordy press release saying, “On August 21st and 25th, Taarifa made false claims about AC Group.” The presser did not address the alleged false claims.

The presser also claims “all buses operating in Kigali are installed with routers and over 81.6 terabytes are consumed per month in all buses.” The presser doesn’t not indicate whether all installed routers beam internet to passengers that pay 10 francs to access data.

For the past year, Taarifa Investigative desk has been carefully tracking the use of Tap&Go cards by Kigali commuters but also keeping an eye on internet services in the buses.

The supply of both internet and cards is well reflected in the contract between AC Group and RFTC- a transport federation. In the contract, AC Group is obliged to also fit cameras inside these buses.

Taarifa findings with practical evidence revealed that, AC Group has never fitted cameras in these buses. The cameras are supposed to record any passenger entering the bus and their numbers would be used in relation with the money deducted from Tap&Go cards.

Since there are literally no cameras in the 450 buses as reflected on the company website, it is technically impossible for the company to be audited as there would be no basis to reject any figures they would provide incase any agency with vested interest would make requests.

“The supplier will provide cameras and sensors mounted on the bus within two months and four months of the contract date respectively,” reads part of the contract the operative provisions among the responsibilities of the supplier.

Meanwhile, for every passenger that enters these buses, they have to direct their Tap&Go cards towards a gadget at the bus door, with help of a censor the gadget reads the card and automatically deducts money which also includes Rwf10 meant for Internet.

AC Group which was established in 2015, has been making these deductions since March 15th 2016 after entering a supply contract with Rwanda Federation of Transport cooperatives (RFTC). The contract which Taarifa has seen is specifically for supplying ‘electronic ticketing and automated fare collection system’.

Details also indicate that AC Group secured this internet supply deal after Telecom Network Solution Providers Ltd (TNSP) which was providing internet on public buses lost its contract in 2016.

Government was responding to complaints from commuters angry with poor service. AC Group was expected to overhaul the system and replace previous routers which were considered weak and not compatible with Kigali terrain.

When AC Group Company took over the deal, it signed a supply contract with Korea Telecom Networks (KTRN) a major wholesaler of 4G LTE internet in the country.

However, Taarifa has discovered that this contract suffered several setbacks as AC group continuously kept ordering KTRN to disconnect some buses. According to KTRN this was not proper business, they pulled out of the contract and several buses remained without internet for months.

AC Group in March secured a new deal with MTN-Rwanda to supply internet but until Wednesday there was no bus connected to internet.

How Your Money On Tap&Go Cards Is Eaten


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