25 December 2012

Rwanda: Musanze?s Job-Seekers Hangout

A group of about 40 men and women casually sit on volcanic rocks, chatting heartily but there is tacit competition among them because - all of them, as they lounge, are waiting for a prospective employer of the day.

These people, most of youthful, hang around a place famously known as 'Komeza Amabuno' (translated to connote the zeal and patience of sitting and waiting) in Muhoza Sector, Musanze District.

Located in a neighborhood called 'Ibereshi rya 6' in Musaze town, the spot is strategically placed, giving a breathtaking view of the Muhabura Volcano, which is part of the Virunga National Park, home to the rare mountain gorillas.

At any passerby whom they see as a prospective employer, they shout; "Do you need a mason? Do you need someone to help with home chores? Do you need someone to work on the farm?"

Razaro Mbarushimana, 23, an assistant at a shop across the street from the spot, said that unemployed people in this sector and neighboring areas expect people to find them there and give them part-time jobs.

For example, women expect to get people to employ them to help with domestic chores like washing clothes, cooking, mopping, lawn cutting, weeding the farm, among others.

"I came around to look for a job, anything really, be it cleaning a house, washing, weeding farms or any other but so far no chance," says 20-year old Janette Akimanizanye. She adds, "I've been coming here all this week (it was Friday) and I have not been lucky."

Akimanizanye says that weeding in farm fetches Rwf500 or Rwf600 a day, while helping a mason at a construction site is paid Rwf1,000.

Residents in Musanze town have come to embrace the spot, as many know where to go when they need someone to help with a particular task.

Musanze is a tourist cit, with ever-increasing opportunities.

At 'Komeza Amabuno', men sit with their tools of work by their side, such as hoes, spades, machetes, hammers and pick axes.

"I always come here and wait for a job of the day, I sit here with expectations and I'm sometimes I'm lucky," says 22-year old Jean Baptiste Ndagijimana.

Ndagijimana says that he has always journeyed to sit there all the week from 6a.m and when it gets to mid-day without any job, then he concludes that's a bad day and then heads back home.

Those who regularly come to this spot say that more and more people will resort to going to the place every morning to try their luck.

"I leave home at around 5:30a.m and arrive here at around 7a.m every day," says Vestine Mukanoheri, a mother of three from Tero sector.

Mukanoheri says that she first heard from her neighbours that 'Komeza Amabuno' is the place to be for the jobless people.

While this habit of sitting around waiting for a potential employer to come around can be seen by others as a sign of laziness in a country where various initiatives have been devised to ensure that most people strive to be employers rather than jobseekers, an official at Musanze District thinks otherwise.

Jerome Mugenzi, the district vice mayor in charge of Finance and Economic Development, says that residents of Musanze district are not lazy.

"That's a sign of proactive people who do not want to sit idly," Ngenzi says.

Working at construction sites is what jobseekers at 'Komeza Amabuno' prefer. They say it pays more than other casual jobs and that it can last for several days or even months.

The government has always urged the citizens to form cooperatives and acquire loans to start income-generating activities.

But the group says they are frightened of forming cooperatives since they were once conned by a one Eustache Nsengiyumva, whom they said collected Rwf2, 000 from each of the masons and Rwf500 from mason assistants with a promise to form a cooperative and get loans.

"He promised to buy a lorry for us and give us uniforms but after giving uniforms to 30 of us, he disappeared; we don't know his whereabouts," recalls Alphonse Uburiyemuye a.k.a Gashyushya.

He had reportedly collected money from more than 150 individuals.

Mugenzi, the vice mayor, says that the district is in the process of finding a way of bringing the men and women at the 'Komeza Amabuno' spot under a cooperative for productive economic activities.

Many hotels and other commercial structures have lately sprung up in Musanze, which is increasingly positioning itself as the country's second largest city after Kigali.

The district has also helped many residents to form cooperatives dealing in traditional handcrafts which are normally liked by visiting tourists, says Ngenzi.

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