The market operates in an open space at Rwesero hill, nearly 4 km from the town.

NYANZA – It is around mid-day and the sun is too hot. In Nyanza market, set up in an open space on Rwesero hill, traders in their stalls wait for buyers with a number of them sitting under uncovered stands, drenched in sweat.

A few customers come in and out; some with wares, others not. Some traders sit holding their cheeks, having lost any hope of getting any clients.

“This place is far from the town centre, which means that buyers are very few as there are other shopping centres in town”, laments Eric Bahati, a trader.

“I hardly earn Rwf 15,000 a day yet I used to get about Rwf 100,000 when the market was still located in the city centre”.

In late 2010, authorities in Nyanza District chose to relocate the market from the city centre to Rwesero hill about four kilometres away from the original site.

They promised that the market would be completed within six months, however, almost 15 months later, it is gradually becoming a flight of fancy.

“Since I began operating from here, I hardly manage to fulfil all my family’s needs,” complains Jean Baptiste Havugamenshi.

“Some of our colleagues have been closing their businesses as a result of losses incurred in this place. If the new market is not completed sooner, I think we are also going to be affected too,” Havugamenshi observed.

Another trader, Jeannette Umurerwa, concurs : “If we are to go on with business, authorities should do their best to speed up the construction,” she says, standing next to her garments stall.

When contacted, the district vice Mayor in charge of Economic affairs, Francis Nkurunziza, explained that the delay was partly due to a change in the market plan.

“At the beginning, we planned to refurbish the old market but after we realised that it could endanger traders’ lives, we decided to demolish it and begin the construction of a new safe and modern market,” he clarifies.

“In the course of the construction, we also had a problem with contractors as they failed to meet the deadline. They were supposed to hand over the market to the district in October [2011] but they failed. We have started fining them as provided by the law,” he notes.

Two enterprises, EMUJABO and Just Size Enterprise, however, deny any role in the delay; instead blaming it on the district.

“The district has been changing the market plan and every time there was a change, we had to wait until it is adopted,” says Baudouin Muhayimana of Entreprise EMUJABO.

“Our initial contract was to refurbish the market, but it kept changing until we were offered another one to build a new one. This resulted into the delay.”

A week ago, the two parties held a meeting with the Southern Provincial authorities and agreed to do their best to have the market completed before March this year.

According to the new agreement, the first phase of the market is due to be complete before the end of February while the second one is due in March this year.

The construction of the market will cost about Rwf 196 million.

By Jean Pierre Bucyensenge, The New Times

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