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Rwanda has got several airports which includes the following:
Kigali International Airport (IATA: KGL, ICAO: HRYR), formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, but sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport, is the primary airport serving Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It is the main air gateway for all destinations in the country, and in addition serves as a transit airport for Goma and Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The airport is located in the suburb of Kanombe, at the eastern edge of Kigali, approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi), by road, east of the central business district of the city of Kigali.
In 2004, the airport served 135,189 passengers. In 2008, the airport served about 270,000 passengers. In May 2011, the Rwanda CAA announced that Kigali airport will be upgraded to meet the strong demand. Works started in October 2012 and will be completed in May 2014. In 2013, data from Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority shows that passenger traffic through Kigali International Airport grew by 30 per cent to 488,903 last year, up from 377,327 in 2011. The airport handled over 300 flights a week. The airport is designed to handle 400 000 passengers per year.
There are three terminals at Kigali. The main two storey terminal was built to replace the single storey building, now housing the VIP terminal. The main terminal can handle 6 small to mid-size aircraft, but it can also handle up to a Boeing 747 jet. The south side of the runway has two helicopter pads with access to the main runway. The pads are used for military helicopters. A cargo terminal is also located at the airport. The latest upgrades to the tarmac and support systems were made in 2002. There is free Wi-Fi in the airport waiting area.
Rwandair has its head office on the top floor of the airport’s main building. The airline previously had its head office in Centenary House in Kigali. The airline began moving its operations from Centenary House to the airport on Friday 14 May 2010. The airline was scheduled to be moved in by Monday 17 May 2010. In addition, Akagera Aviation and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority have their offices at the airport.
New Kigali (Bugesera) International Airport
There are plans to replace the current airport with a new one located south of Kigali on the south side of the Nyabarongo River in Bugesera. A new airport location is needed as the existing airport does not allow for growth (no room for additional runway and facilities). The new airport will have one runway, but it can allow a second one to be added later. The project should begin in 2013, and be ready for flights by 2016.
Airlines and Destinations
There are 3 others airlines, which have a base at Kigali. Akagera Aviation which is a Rwandan heli company. Tempus Jet which is an American airline which provides charter flights, and Nexus Aero which is a Saudi VIP airline.
Butare Airport (IATA: BTQ, ICAO: HRYI), is located in the city of Butare, in Huye District, Southern Province. Its location lies approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi), by air, southwest of Kigali International Airport, the country’s largest civilian airport. The geographic coordinates of this airport are: 2° 35′ 42.00″S, 29° 44′ 24.00″E (Latitude:-2.59500; Longitude: 29.74000).
Butare Airport is a small civilian airport that serves the town of Butare. It is one of the eight (8) airports that are administered by the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. Butare Airport is situated 1,768 meters (5,801 ft.) above sea level. The airport has a single paved runway, which measures approximately 860 meters (2,820 ft.) in length.
Kamembe International Airport is an airport near Cyangugu and Kamembe in Rwanda (IATA: KME, ICAO: HRZA). Rwandair operates 13 weekly flights to and from Kigali, with a Dash 8-100. The airport receives others flights from Tanzania, Uganda and DR Congo. Early in 2010, the Rwanda Government announced that Kamembe will be modernized. In end of 2012, the new terminal was completed. A new control tower was opened, as well new navigations systems were installed, by Techno sky. In May 2013, during a visit, the Rwandan minister of infrastructure announced, that the runway will be expended by 2014.
Gishenyi Airport (IATA: GYI, ICAO: HRYG), is located in Rwanda’s Western Province, in Rubavu District, in the town of Gishenyi, at the International border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This location lies approximately 94 kilometres (58 mi), by air, northwest of Kigali International Airport, currently, the country’s largest civilian airport. The geographic coordinates of this airport are: 1° 40′ 48.00″S, 29° 15′ 30.00″E (Latitude:-1.680000; Longitude: 29.258334).
Gishenyi Airport is a medium-sized airport that serves the town of Gishenyi and the neighboring city of Goma, across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The two neighboring cities are also served by Goma Airport, which is very near the border with Rwanda – similar to Tijuana International Airport and Brown Field Municipal Airport which are separated by the United States – Mexico Border. Gishenyi Airport is one of the eight (8) public civilian airports under the administration of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. Gishenyi Airport is situated at an altitude of 5,082 feet (1,549 m) above sea level. The airport has a single asphalt runway that measures 3,330 feet (1,010 m) long and 75 feet (23 m) wide.
Airlines and destinations
Rwandair, the national carrier, operated a three weekly service between Gishenyi Airport and Kigali International Airport. However as of June 2013 they no longer do so.
Nemba Airport (IATA: n/a, ICAO: HRYN) is located in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, in Bugesera District, in the town of Nemba, at the International border with Republic of Burundi. This location lies approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi), by air, southeast of Kigali International Airport, currently, the country’s largest civilian airport.
The geographic coordinates of this airport are: 2° 19′ 48.00″S, 30° 12′ 0.00″E (Latitude:-2.33000; Longitude: 30.20000). Nemba Airport is situated at an altitude of about 1,495 meters (4,905 ft.) above sea level. The airport has a single unpaved runway that measures approximately 1,100 meters (3,600 ft.) in length.
Nemba Airport is a small rural airport that serves the town of Nemba and neighboring communities. It is one of the eight (8) public civilian airports under the administration of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority.
Ruhengeri Airport (IATA: RHG, ICAO: HRYU) is located in Rwanda’s Northern Province, in Musanze District, in the town of Ruhengeri. This location lies approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi), by air, northwest of Kigali International Airport, currently, the country’s largest civilian airport. The geographic coordinates of this airport are: 1° 30′ 0.00″S, 29° 38′ 1.00″E (Latitude:-1.50000; Longitude: 29.63361).
Ruhengeri Airport is a medium-sized airport that serves the town of Ruhengeri and neighboring communities. It is one of the eight (8) public civilian airports under the administration of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. Ruhengeri Airport is situated at an altitude of about 1,860 meters (6,100 ft.) above sea level. The airport has a single asphalt runway that measures 1,480 meters (4,860 ft.) in length.
Bugesera International Airport
Bugesera Airport will be located in southeastern Rwanda, in Bugesera District, near the town of Nyamata. This location is approximately 24 kilometres (15 mi), by air, south of Kigali International Airport, currently the largest civilian airport of the country. The exact location of the airport is not yet shown on most publicly available maps. Bugesera International Airport will be situated at an altitude of 1,400 meters (4,600 ft.) above sea level.
Bugesera International Airport will become Rwanda’s largest International Airport, serving commercial flights destined to and from the greater Kigali metropolitan area. When completed, it will become Rwanda’s third International Airport, and the country’s 8th airport overall. It will complement Kigali International Airport, which is now operating at maximum capacity. The airport will initially have a single paved runway. During the second phase of construction, a second runway will be added. Construction is expected to start in 2012 and be completed in 2016. The estimated cost for Phase I is US$450 million, while Phase II is budgeted to cost US$250 million, for a total of US$700 million. It is anticipated that Phase I will be complete by 2016. The British accounting firm Price water house coopers, has been retained to oversee the financing of the new airport. Selection of the airport developer will be made in 2012. Construction will begin in 2013 and the first phase is expected to be completed in 2016.
In April 2013, East African media reported that the Chinese company China State Construction Engineering (CSCEC) had been awarded the construction contract. Construction is expected to begin in 2013 with completion in 2017, at an estimated cost of US$650 million.
Transport in Rwanda
The transport system in Rwanda centers primarily on the road network, with paved roads between the capital, Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is also linked by road with other countries in East Africa, via which the majority of the country’s imports and exports are made.
The country has an international airport at Kigali, serving one domestic and several international destinations, and also has limited transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu. There are currently no railways in Rwanda.
A large amount of investment in the transport infrastructure has been made by the government since the 1994 genocide, with aid from the European Union, China, Japan and others.
The road network
Rwanda has a total of 12,000 km of roads, of which 1,000 km are paved. The remainders are dirt roads with quality varying from smooth hard surfaces with drainage to rutted, extremely uneven tracks passable only with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Most of the main towns in the country are now connected by paved road. The condition of these roads was until recently very poor, with numerous pot-holes and vehicles often driving on the dirt verges since these were deemed smoother than the road itself. A recent government programme of upgrading and resurfacing means that most major routes are now in good condition.
The major urban arteries of Kigali, as well as the high streets in Ruhengeri, Kibuye and Gishenyi are dual carriageways, but all national long distance roads are single carriageway. There are no motorways in Rwanda.
The principal routes are (refer to map for number references):
- Kigali-Gatuna/Katuna (Uganda border) Byumba. The main road through the north of the country, this is the main route to Kabale and Kampala in Uganda
- Kigali-Kayonza/Rwamagana Leads east from the capital. Resurfacing of this road was recently completed, and it features Rwanda’s first proper bypass around the town of Rwamagana
- (a) Kayonza-Kagitumba (Uganda border), Nyagatare. A continuation of road 2, running to the far northeast of the country. Prior to 1994 most of this road was within the Akagera National Park but the area has now been settled, largely by refugees who returned from Uganda after the war.
- (b) Kayonza-Rusumo (Tanzania border), Kibungo. The main route into Tanzania, running down to the far southeast of the country. The border is a high bridge over the Kagera River (which is also part of the most distant headwater of the Nile)
- Kigali-Fugi (Burundi border)-Gitarama, Butare. The road linking the main two cities of Rwanda as well as being the main link to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The section south of Gitarama was resurfaced in 2004.
- (a) Gitarama-Kibuye. This road was surfaced for the first time by Chinese engineers within the last decade, running through very hilly terrain and crossing the Nile/Congo watershed.
(b) Butare-Cyangugu (DRC border)-Gikongoro, A very beautiful stretch of road, running through the heart of Nyungwe Forest and ending on the shores of Lake Kivu. It also links to the Congolese city of Bukavu.
4. Kigali-Gishenyi (DRC border), Ruhengeri. Possibly Rwanda’s most beautiful highway, passing first through the hilly areas around Mount Kabuye and then turning west to head along the southern edge of the Virunga volcano chain, before ending up at Gishenyi, on the shores of Lake Kivu. The road continues into Goma in the DRC.
4. (a) Ruhengeri-Cyanika (Uganda border). A road linking to Ruhengeri to Kisoro in Uganda. Passes very close to Mount Muhabura, and has an amazing vista right along the Virunga chain.
5. Kigali-Burundi border, Nyamata-The road was paved a couple years ago since the government of Rwanda is considering building a new international airport near the town of Nyamata.
There is also one road which is currently a quite poor quality dirt road, but may soon be upgraded to paved status:
The road running along Lake Kivu between Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gishenyi, since these towns are now linked politically in by the newly formed Western Province.
There are several daily coach services from Rwanda to destinations in East Africa:
Jaguar Executive Coaches, which connects Kigali to Kampala, the Ugandan capital, via Gatuna (road 1 on the map above) or via Kayonza and Kagitumba (roads 2 and 2a).
Regional Coach Services, which runs services to Kampala (8 hours), Nairobi, Kenya (20 hours) and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (36 hours), all via the Gatuna border crossing. These buses are usually air-conditioned.
Onatracom Express – a Rwandan government service using quite basic buses, running between Kigali and Kampala.
Yahoo Car Express – A minibus service running between Kigali and Bujumbura, Burundi. This service has been subject to ambush in the past by rebels in Burundi, although the new government claims to have sorted out this problem now.
In addition the national express share taxi services (see below) to Gishenyi and Cyangugu often cross the DRC border to carry passengers to Goma and Bukavu respectively.
A row of minibus share taxis waiting to depart in Kigali
The main form of public transport within Rwanda is the Share taxi, known locally simply as taxi or, colloquially, twegerane, which means ‘let’s sits together’ in the Kinyarwanda language (a conventional private taxi is referred to as a special hire or taxi voiture). These share taxis come in two forms:
Stopping taxis, which run between two termini (known as taxi parks), but stop frequently en route to pick up and set down passengers. They almost always wait until full before departing, and can also wait for long periods in locations along the route if not enough people are on board. The vehicles are usually Toyota minibuses owned by a private individual who employs a driver (Fr: chauffeur) and a conductor (Fr: convoyeur) to operate and maintain the vehicle on a day-to-day basis. Most have four rows of seats, each of which seats four adults (babies and children not being counted as they are expected to sit on the lap of an adult). Additionally there are two front passenger seats, so the vehicle can carry a total of up to eighteen passengers, in addition to the driver and the conductor. The conductor is responsible for opening and closing the main sliding door and collecting money from passengers, and will stand in the space by the door if all seats are occupied. No tickets are issued on this form of taxi.
Express taxis. These run to a set timetable (usually hourly) between major towns, generally Kigali and a major regional centre. The taxis are run by a company (Sotra Tours, Atraco, Stella, Volcanoes Express, Virunga, Trans2000, Omega Car and Muhabura Travel) and issue tickets in advance with a set price. Like stopping taxis, these are minibuses and seat 18 passengers, but they depart on time and do not stop until they reach their destination, except to set people down. Express taxis are quite a recent phenomenon, but are gaining rapidly in popularity as they provide people the security of arriving at a known time. More destinations are being added over time, and most routes sell out considerably in advance of the departure time. Passengers wishing to alight before the end terminus can do so, but have to pay the full ticket price anyway. The price of tickets on Express taxis is similar to the price of a stopping taxi over the same distance.
In addition to these two forms of share taxi, there is a limited national bus service run by a company called Onatracom, which is affiliated with the Rwandan government. These run between Kigali and the major towns two or three times per day, and have the advantage of greater leg room and luggage space but generally take longer to reach their destinations. Onatracom buses also serve some remote areas along dirt roads not otherwise accessible by public transport.
Public transport in Kigali takes the form of the stopping share taxis mentioned above, but running much more frequently due to greater demand. While the national ones are typically unmarked, Kigali taxis have a yellow stripe running round the vehicle, on which is imprinted the start and end points of its route. Most services start or finish either in the city centre or at Nyabugogo, the city’s main national bus station.
A recent survey carried out by the Transport Companies Association in Kigali gives us the following statistics: There are 19 bus companies operating a total of 1633 buses of various makes, models and sizes in various parts of Rwanda. In Kigali City itself there are 622 buses operating. Of these 622, 90.6% of them are small Toyota Hiace vehicles, mostly more than 10 years old, and many much older. Of the larger type vehicles carrying up to 30 passengers or so there are 58 units of which 34.4% are new vehicles owned and operated by Kigali Bus Services Ltd.
Kigali International Airport
The country’s main air gateway is Kigali International Airport, which is located at Kanombe, a suburb approximately 10 km from Kigali city centre. The airport has international flights to Lagos, Brazzaville, Dubai, Nairobi, Entebbe, Addis Ababa, Bujumbura, Johannesburg, Amsterdam, Brussels and Doha and is the main airport for the national carrier Rwandair.
There are plans being discussed to build a new airport at Nyamata in Bugesera district, approximately 40 km from Kigali which would be much bigger and could act as a hub for the entire region. The only other airport in the country with passenger service is Kamembe Airport, which is in the city of Cyangugu. Rwandair operates a service between Kigali and Kamembe, which serves southwestern Rwanda and the Congolese city of Bukavu.
This is by far the largest of Rwanda’s lakes, forming the border with the DRC. There are occasional boat services between the major ports of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gishenyi but these do not run to a regular timetable and often have to be chartered. There are also boats used to ferry people to some of the islands in the lake, but these also do not run regularly. Local fishermen operate along the entirety of the lakeshore, usually in dug-out canoes or other hand-crafted boats. The Rwandan navy operates a few boats on the lake to protect the country against infiltrators from the Congolese side.
Transport on Rwanda’s other major lakes is mostly limited to ferries, usually local boats similar to those used to fishing, which transport people from one side to the other. Some lakes have resort bars and hotels, such as Jambo Beach on Lake Muhazi, which can offer a pleasure cruise to their customers in their own speed boat. Local fishermen operate on most lakes.