Kigali City market traders complain of illegal hawkers
A growing scramble for customers between traders based at Kigali city market and street hawkers opearing within the vicinity of the market is ensuing with the former lamenting of diminishing returns and clientele.
Traders who spoke to The New Times allege that the playing field is uneven as they are forced to part with an average of Rwf60,000 in rent per month besides paying taxes unlike the illegal hawkers.
“Street vendors negatively affect our business because they sell the same products as us at lower prices. Therefore, the clients buy their products and do not come to this market yet they neither pay rent nor taxes,” complains Ange Ingabire, a fruits trader at the market.
“Some of us sell perishable products and if we do not manage to sell, we have to dispose them thus undergoing huge losses.”
“Recently, the market was closed but when it was reopened, there was no aweareness to let the public know about this. Besides, people think the market is expensive because we are houses in this modern permanent premises,” she adds.
“Business can improve if street vendors are stopped. We also encourage members of the public to visit the market as our products are cheap. Otherwise, we may have to close our doors soon as our other colleagues did,” says Christine Mukamwezi, a vegetables trader
Another trader, Firdausi Mukarusagara, who represents other traders at the market also laments of the predicament facing them.
“Street vendors around the market have refused to join us yet they are affecting our businesses,” says Mukarusagara who further points out that the traders do not have an association.
“We have already addressed the problem to Kigali city officials and the police often deal with the street vendors but the problem still persists,” she adds.
James Rudasingwa , the official in charge of communication and security at Kigali Investment Company which owns the market, observes that they built a modern market to avoid disorder in the city.
He says they are aware of the problem of hawkers but he exonerates his company from any blame regarding the woes facing the bona fide traders.
“Kigali Investment company built a modern market to avoiddisorder; Kigali city council is in charge of halting the activities of street vendors and other illegal businesses to allow tenants in our market to get clients,” Rudasingwa insists.
“The products in the market are not expensive at all. The problem is with those selling the same products illegally. We are, however, publicising the market through different channels to make people understand that it has cheap products,” he says. Rudasingwa says that his company has asked KCC for intervention.
The Director of Communication and media at KCC, Bruno Rangira, says that the city is not responsible for the market because it is owned by an association. He, however, added that they attempt to avert all kinds of illegal businesses including hawking.
“We know about the problem of street hawking as well as other illegal businesses. We are, however, planning to regroup them in markets and offer them a grace period of one year without paying rent so as to develop themselves,” Rangira reveals adding that the plan was in the pipeline this financial year but was postponed to a latter date.
Some of the Kigali residents who spoke to The New Times admit they don’t know the market well.
“I am usually see the market but that’s all. I assume it is a supermarket where not everybody may go to purchase products. I buy whatever I need in other markets,” says Betty Mugorewera, a resident at Gitega sector.
By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti, The New Times
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