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Rwanda’s Moto-Taxi Helmets Get a Makeover for a Safer Ride

Rwanda’s moto-taxi industry, a vital component in the nation’s transportation network, is

gearing up for a major safety upgrade.


Healthy People Rwanda (HPR) in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Rwanda Standard Board, have introduced a game-changer: new helmets with certified, UN-approved models.


A World of Varied Protection


It’s important to understand that not all helmets are created equal. Currently, there are

different levels of helmet quality with varying degrees of effectiveness. Several factors

can influence a helmet’s protectiveness, including its design, rider compliance with

helmet laws, usage rates, and the specific type of crash.


For instance, even helmets conforming to safety standards may offer different levels of

protection depending on the standard itself. Additionally, helmet use laws have been

demonstrably linked to higher usage rates and lower head injury and fatality statistics.

Different countries adopt different helmet standards based on quality and cost-



Some countries allow motorcyclists to choose their helmets without specific regulations

on quality or certification. Rwanda presents a unique case. Despite being a low-income

country, it boasts a 100% helmet compliance rate among moto-taxi riders.


However, these current helmets were not required to meet any specific safety standard,

and no quality control measures were enforced during their manufacturing process.

Independent lab testing of various helmets purchased in Kigali revealed catastrophic

failures—they were unable to mitigate forces known to cause serious head injuries.

These new helmets are more than just a cosmetic change. They boast impressive

safety features, including scratch and impact resistance. Studies estimate that these

upgraded helmets will significantly reduce the risk of severe head injuries by 69% and

fatalities by 42%. Some data suggests that up to 50% of deaths from motorcycle

accidents are as a result of unsafe helmets.


“Tuwurinde”: A National Push for Protection


On May 27th, HPR and the partners unveiled the new standardised helmets at a

launch event held at the Kigali City Headquarters. A national campaign “Tuwurinde” (Let’s Protect the Head” was also initiated. The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special

Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, and Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Dr. Eng.

Jimmy Gasore presided over the launch.


The new project is a bold initiative to replace all current helmets with certified ones. This

move promises significant reductions in head injuries and fatalities for moto-taxi riders,

passengers, and other road users.


500 brand-new, UN ECE 22.05 certified helmets were distributed to the top-performing

moto-taxi cooperatives in Kigali, marking the beginning of a nationwide rollout.


Speaking at the launch, Minister Gasore emphasized the government’s commitment to

a gradual but comprehensive transition. “We want to ensure a process where these

certified helmets are used, slowly replacing the older ones,” he said.


This ensures continuity while prioritizing safety. The Minister clarified that all existing

helmets will remain in use until new directives are established, and cooperatives

returning their old helmets will receive brand new certified ones.


The Rwanda National Police is fully behind the “Tuwurinde” campaign. Police

Spokesperson, ACP Boniface Rutikanga, sees the certified helmets as a powerful

addition to existing road safety initiatives like “Gerayo Amahoro”.


“These helmets will enhance existing campaigns and further improve the safety of moto-

taxi users, especially guaranteeing protection for the head, a key part of the human body,” he stated.


Kigali City Mayor, Samuel Dusengiyumva, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the

importance of safety in a city where moto-taxis are a prominent feature of daily life. “Let

security and safety be the norm in Kigali,” he declared.


Challenges and a Brighter Future


While the Tuwurinde campaign holds immense promise, challenges remain. The scale

of the project is significant. There are approximately 50,000 moto-taxis operating in

Rwanda, with over half concentrated in Kigali alone.


Ensuring all these riders are equipped with the new helmets requires a robust

distribution system and ongoing outreach efforts. The project goes beyond just moto-

taxis. Ordinary motorcycle owners who ride for personal use will also be encouraged to

purchase the certified helmets, further enhancing overall road safety.


The moto-taxi riders themselves are also enthusiastic about the new helmets, but with a

touch of economic concern, which government has indicated will be dealt with.


“This is a big step forward,” says Emmanuel, a veteran moto-taxi operator. “Knowing I

have a helmet that can truly protect me gives me peace of mind on the road.”. The

current helmets felt flimsy,” adds Aisha, a moto-taxi rider. “These new ones feel much

sturdier. It’s reassuring.”


”I hope the final price of these helmets is affordable for all riders,” she says.


Funded by FIA Foundation and the UN Road Safety Fund (UNRSF), Tuwurinde project aims to improve lives by developing a revenue stream through the manufacturing and exporting of made-in-Rwanda helmets that will decrease road traffic injuries across the African continent. 

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