Rwanda: COVID-19 - Govt Moves to Decongest Food Markets

The City of Kigali and Nyarugenge District authorities have shifted some food trading activities from city markets to Nyabugogo Bus Park to decongest marketplaces.

The move aims to ensure social distancing among people, which is an important tool in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

Nyabugogo Bus Park was lying idle following the temporary the suspension of public transport operations in order to control the virus spread.

A mini-survey by this newspaper across some five major food markets in Nyarugenge District revealed that although people wash hands before entering the markets, vendors and customers don't comply with social distancing guidelines when they are inside the markets.

This is despite a continuous public message on loud speakers within the markets urging people to to comply with social distance of one metre.

"In early morning hours, many clients are rushing to buy food and this is causing congestion because they are too many while our stands are very close to each other due to the small market," said Claudine Murekatete, a vegetable vendor in Mutangana market.

This, she said, is very risky.

The congestion is also worsened by vehicles that transport food commodities from the countryside to food markets in Kigali.

In the morning when trucks are offloading food, vendors scramble for the commodities, hence violating the social distancing guidelines.

Officials said that it's this congestion that prompted them to temporarily relocate some food vending activities Nyabugogo Bus Park.

"We had to take measures to fight the spread of coronavirus in this place," explained Emmy Ngabonziza, the Nyarugenge District Executive Administrator.

Opening up new food shops

Ngabonziza added that the City of Kigali in partnership with the private sector is mapping other different sites in the neighbourhoods of district where some businesses to decongest the markets.

"We have talked to private sector operators to open up new shops that sell foodstuff in the neighbourhoods instead of congesting small markets," he said.

He said measures have also been taken to draw distancing lines between vendors and clients in every market so as to comply with recommended one metre distance.

"We continue to sensitise those going to markets on social distancing as a way of preventing the spread of coronavirus. People should not do it by forcing them because it is their benefits to protect their lives and the lives of other people," the official said.

Markets are supposed to close by 5:30pm so as to be able to control movements of people, he added.

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