Effective this Wednesday January 18, people found selling anything on the streets of Kigali city and the buyers will pay fines once caught.
A directive issued mid last year sets a fine of Rwf 10,000 ($12) each for both the street hawker and the buyer. In addition, merchandise of the hawker will be confiscated.
Implementation of the directive officially begun this January 18. There will be Kigali city security personnel roaming around the city with vehicles. They will not be carrying guns though.
Kigali deputy mayor for social affairs Patricia Muhongerwa told journalists at city hall that they had hoped street vending would be over within six months, but the hawkers are still there.
Last year, cases of street venders involved in running battles with local security personnel were an all too common scene. Estimates put total number of hawkers at about 6,000.
A huge government-funded project was initiated under which 12 markets were built on outskirts of the city center. In addition, selling points have also been set up with well-furnished structures in sub-urban areas. Walking around Kigali, those spots are clearly visible and the hawkers are busy selling.
Government finds itself caught between the need to keep business people with shops along the streets happy so its taxable base is not affected, and giving room to the informal sector to thrive. But under pressure to increase the tax bracket, it hopes by gazetting the venders will bring some more of the much-needed cash, and keep the city clean.
“Despite all the initiatives for the hawkers, some are still on the streets – because the buyers are still buying from them. The fine should serve as a deterrent,” said Muhongerwa.
But one challenge still remains – the Kenyan Masai hawkers that have become common sight in Kigali. They sell different wears including hand-made sandals.
Officials have not made a direct reference to the Masai but have said the ban on street hawkers covers everyone. It remains to be seen how they will be handled.