Panel Six: Infrastructure to sustain mobility and healthy living
Jit Bajpai of Columbia University presented his thoughts on the role of government in sustaining mobility in Rwanda. He said that we had seen excellent strategies over the course of the conference, but the question is to figure out near term actions. Then, the appropriate sequencing needed to be considered.
In moving from strategy to implementation, Prof. Bajpai proposed the following considerations:
Prioritisation of investment within budget
- Strategic alignment
- Economic merit, i.e. cost – benefit analysis
- Social impact
Sequencing or critical building blocks
- Investment & actions
- Institution & capacity building
- Pricing & cost recovery
- Operations & maintenance
There are several key challenges in the implementation of the plan. For internal and external connectivity, the improvement of strategic roads linking Kigali, land borders, secondary towns and economic nodes is provided for to which not much needs to be added as the plan is comprehensive enough. However, the building of national and district institutions and an adequate funding base for the Road Management Fund are critical for the sustainability of the road system.
In terms of challenges for Kigali, traffic and congestion management needs to be strengthened or there will be gridlock given the rising number of vehicles. Secondly, improvements to the private bus service are necessary to provide adequate transport capacity. At present, the bulk of the population walks as the main mode of transport, so space for pedestrians and cyclist deserves consideration in the layout of roads. The promotion of transit nodes is another consideration crucial to linking different modes of transport.
In addition to considering concrete actions for the transport strategy, careful sequencing of activities is essential. First, institutional capacity building, attention to operations and management issues as well as the development of effective standards and regulations should form the foundation for the future of the transport policy. Second, as capacity grows, improved public transport, infrastructure for freight and bus transport and regulatory strengthening should be the next step on the ladder. Third, a reallocation of road capacity to buses and other mass transport, demand management and the extension of road capacity are objectives of further transport system enhancement. Finally, congestion pricing, urban rail and other advanced methods can be considered.
Prof. Bajpai then turned towards building blocks of a competitive private transport sector. Several options for the organisation of the sector exist, including gross cost contracting, management contracting, net cost contracting, franchises, and concessions. The basic dynamic is that the less funding is applied from the public side, the more regulation is necessary to safeguard the public interest and create social value added.
Contracting has advantages: there are incentives for operators to control costs and increase revenue (though not necessarily ridership) and that the public authority is not required to control and monitor revenue collection. The disadvantage is that strong regulation is required as otherwise private operators will reduce service levels where unprofitable and they may overcharge. There may also be regulatory capture and if not handled properly, and chaotic and unsafe service delivery will occur as private operators maximise profit without consideration of externalities.