Sunday, 28 July 2013

Huye closes down old city structures, eyes overhaul

Huye closes down old city structures, eyes overhaul

Huye district plans to overhaul the city with old structures to pave way for redevelopment.

AUTHORITIES in Huye District have ordered traders to vacate all old buildings in the city centre and instructed landlords to redevelop the area according to the district master plan.

The directive, conveyed in a letter to owners of commercial buildings in the town, sets Wednesday as the deadline.

In a July 9 letter, Mayor Eugene Kayiranga Muzuka instructed all traders to vacate the buildings so as to pave way for the redevelopment of the city’s central business district.

The mayor also ordered landlords to start erecting modern buildings, according to the town’s master plan.

Local authorities and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) could not, by press time, provide the exact number of those to be affected by the decision. However, Muzuka told The New Times last week that all traders operating in old structures should vacate by the set date.

Most businesses operate largely in old structures, some dating back over sixty or seventy years.

In a meeting last Thursday, Muzuka told traders and owners of commercial buildings that it is imperative that the city centre be redeveloped to give it a facelift and attract more businesses to the district, long considered as the second city after the City of Kigali.

“Shall we continue to have such an old city?” Muzuka asked. “I believe none of us is pleased to operate in a city that doesn’t grow. For many years, we have been asking landlords to think of how to redevelop their structures according to the master plan. But it seems that they have just ignored our pleas.”

In January, authorities met the business community to discuss the issue and greed on the July 31 deadline, the mayor said.

“The time has come to act,” Muzuka said.

According to the leader, traders who had been operating in the zone that is set to be closed should relocate to a newly-constructed multi-million commercial market, which was constructed by Abishyizehamwe cooperative just metres down the current Huye city market complex.

The new market, which is set for launch on Thursday, can accommodate more than 300 traders, according to officials.


The redevelopment plan, however, has raised concerns and fear among the business community, with many claiming that it is beyond their means or might cause significant losses to their businesses.

Wellars Munyangeri, 73, an owner of a commercial building in the area, said closing down his building would cause significant losses to his business.

Munyangeri said building a desired modern house in the area could cost at least Rwf140 million.

“If they close down my house, I will lose an important source of revenue that I use to sustain my family,” Munyangeri said.

“I am not against development but I don’t have the means to develop the place as they want,” he added.

Mayor Muzuka said those who will fail to comply with the city’s master plan will see their land given to others who can develop it.

Francoise Semwiza, who owns two retail shops in the area, also said the plan could affect her businesses.

“We might lose some of our clients,” she said. “Some could also be compelled to temporary close their businesses as they look up for suitable places where to operate.”

Although she commended the redevelopment plan, saying it can help improve businesses in the future, Semwiza prayed authorities are cautious while implementing the plan so as not to hurt businesses in the district.

The new directive comes barely three years after authorities had ordered the closure and redevelopment of Huye’s central business district, commonly known as ‘Icyarabu’.

Currently, many of the commercial buildings in the city remain closed and it seems there are no plans to redevelop them.

Only two buildings, of between two and four storeys, have been completed in the Icyarabu area, while three others are under construction.

However, according to the mayor, efforts are being made to ensure that the whole area is redeveloped.

Muzuka also said the construction of tarmac roads in the area and its surroundings will start soon.

However, he did not give the exact time for the activities to start. In a past interview, the mayor told this paper that the nine-kilometre road network will be complete in six months.

The roads, which are full of potholes, had for long been considered a serious challenge to the redevelopment of the town.


Huye closes down old city structures, eyes overhaul


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