Rubavu town is known to be a city full of life with beaches teeming with people and an alternative destination for people who want to get away from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city on weekends. But, now due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the city is deserted.
Rubavu is one of the six secondary cities of the country located in the Western Province, bordering with Goma – the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC).
Its beautiful, clean roads, like in Kigali are now idle with zero traffic since public transport from/to Kigali was restricted and local traffic practically impossible given the one-meter social distance requirement.
The roads lead to the markets, shops, high-end residential neighborhoods and most obviously, to the beautiful hotels and hangout facilities which have been steadily growing in the beautiful city where Congolese and Rwandan culture made a colorful marriage.
Other roads lead to the beach, and this tells the rest. Rubavu is a coastal city on Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s biggest lake with 2,700 km2 (1,040 sq mi), 480 m (1,575 ft) Max. depth and 1,460 m (4,790 ft) Surface elevation.
Today the waters of Lake Kivu look cleaner and clearer -a break Lake Kivu needed. Like the Canals of Venice, in Italy, the beaches of the Lake have used the lockdown as an opportunity to breathe and regain their natural ecosystem as people remain indoors.
No sight of bottles or trash as people stay at home. The water seems clearer and natural-a much needed break the lake needed from the noisy and wild crowds that characterised its shores from Friday to Sunday.
The beaches normally teeming with people –from Kivu Serena Hotel to Tam Tam and Little Paris are all deserted with no people in sight. On a normal day, many people, mainly residents and tourists are seen swimming in the freshwater of the lake.
As any other water body often flooded by people, pollution of the water was a common occurrence. As of today, the waters seems to have cleared, no boats are roaming around, picking and dropping people and emitting smoke.
The city which is on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), overlooking Goma right across, is now to be one of the business towns in Rwanda, teeming with activity, especially cross border trade but all that is no more as the country continues to observe a 15-day lockdown to stop the spread of the New Coronavirus.
The two border points on the Rwanda-DRC border remain closed awaiting new directives from the government.
All photos by Silidio Sebuharara