Rwanda has made significant progress in improving hygiene in homes, institutions, public and private built environments.
The 2016 year report by UN HABITAT indicated that Kigali city is among the top cleanest cities in Africa. This has been a result of deliberate efforts from a number of stakeholders including RURA which licenses cleaning services providers.
In order to strengthen and sustain hygiene and sanitation services, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) established new regulations regarding operations of cleaning services in 2017 following a dialogue that brought together various stakeholders including cleaning service providers. As of 15th february 2018, there were 135 cleaning companies and cooperatives dully licensed by RURA and registered with RDB and RCA.
Better Cleaning services
Jacques Nzitonda, the director in charge of regulating water and sanitation at RURA explains why the regulations were established and how they are impacting services delivery.
“Regulations for improving cleaning services were first established in 2011 to address issues of cleanness in various public places such as markets, hospitals, offices, roads and streets, gardens, etc and ensure professionalism of cleaning service providers. These regulations were reviewed in 2017 to address challenges of capacities and set standards for providers of such services” he explains.
Among issues that were specifically addressed in the new regulations include: the safety and protection of workers by imposing service providers to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all employees in order to protect them against accidents and work related disease especially those working in hospitals, industries and roads/streets.
Professionalize cleaning service provision and specifically providers advocated for increasing license fee to discourage those that were unprofessional,
Eng Nzitonda reminded Companies that hire or offer tenders to respect laws and assess carefully if the cleaning services bidders have all necessary requirements in accordance with regulations and operating license from RURA.
Requirements and Licensing
The license application fees for providing cleaning services were revised from Rwf 5, 000 to Rwf 100,000, the license fee of from RwF 100,000 to Rwf 500, 000 and validity from 1 year to 5 years.
To qualify, a cleaning service provider must be registered by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) if it is a company and Rwanda Cooperative Agency in case of cooperative; have at least one staff with a diploma in hygiene related field, an accountant with at least a certificate in accounting for bookkeeping.
RURA says the applicants must present proof of having enough hygiene equipment and workers’ protection gear including gloves, safety shoes, overalls and nose guards.
Staff carrying out cleaning services alongside roads must possess don florescent jackets with high reflecting effect for easy recognition by road users from a distance.
RURA also underlined that Licenses issued to cleaning services companies are different from those involved in waste collection and transportation.
Cleaning services providers clean places but waste are collected and transported to dumping sites by licensed operators in waste collection and transportation services.
RURA says that a company that is interested in combining both services must first apply and get these two licenses.
There are designated sanctions for those that fail to comply with regulations including fines.
When an employee works without appropriate body protection such as safety shoes, the company is fined Rwf 10,000 while one without reflector jacket is fined Rwf 20,000.
Employees in companies that provide cleaning services have been sensitized on the importance of wearing protection gear and the process is ongoing.
Jean Baptiste Ndayishimiye, an employee with New Generation Cleaners and Supplies Co Ltd, says that having protection gear has helped him keep safe at his place of work.
“I have worked in hospital cleaning services for some time. I was always worried of getting infected or contracting diseases for lack of protection. It is therefore a relief that RURA made it mandatory for the providers of cleaning services to always put on protection ware. We currently work with more confidence because we have necessary protection which as well improves the way we deliver,” he says.
Mary Prosper in charge of cleaning and hygiene in CHUK says that they abide by the regulations concerning hygiene in hospitals so that workers get protected from contracting diseases from the waste and used equipment.
“Before RURA put much emphasis on protection ware, workers were vulnerable and left susceptible to diseases. Workers were not even aware of its importance but this attitude has changed which ensures our safety, hygiene and good delivery,” he said.
However, Angelique Akingeneye, who works as a cleaner on Kimihurura roads, employed by Imena Company, says that sometimes protection ware get old and the company delays to get them new ones.
“For example I do not have gloves, yet our bosses have been promising us that they would give them out soon. They have delayed. My overall is old and I need another one,” she says.
Cleaning companies, however, say there are some employees who overlook the importance of protecting themselves.
Jean Paul Ngenzi Shiraniro, the proprietor of AGRUNI Company says that companies provide protection materials such as boots and others to workers but some sell them off because they have not yet understood the importance of protecting themselves.
RURA urges cleaning service companies across the country in different institutions to comply with regulations and professionally operate in a way that they both improve hygiene and generate revenues for themselves.