Businesses should respect the city master plan
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RE: “Businesses operating in residential facilities given 3 months to relocate” (The New Times, January 5).
Probably 3-month notice is not enough. But on a serious note, if we spent a lot of time and resources developing a master plan, we should adhere to it.
These commercial complexes were built because organizations complained they can’t move out of residences as there is not enough commercial space. And now that commercial space is available, the excuses vary with even the “highhandedness” card being played.
City authorities should dedicate time and resources to raise awareness about the master plan, clearly pointing out which areas are commercial, residential or both. Also pointing out which businesses or organizations can co-exist within residential properties.
For instance, can a grocery store or restaurant exist in a residential area? I know of a couple of factories which are within estates. Is that acceptable?
Such are among the issues that need to be clarified in awareness about the master plan. People need to own the master plan and carry out their business activities in line with it and plan accordingly.
Some businesses have long-term leases or modified the properties in line with their operations. Such can be costly and should be put into consideration. Otherwise, without proper information, some of these directives appear spontaneous or haphazard and unfair which can be detrimental to the justifiable objective of why we actually have a master plan.
In my opinion, this decision is good, but the approach is sending out the wrong message to Rwandans and investors.
It is indeed very important that things get done in the right environment (business in a business complex, manufacturing in a factories environment, etc.), but the deadline is too short for both tenants and owners of residential properties. In addition, many non residential activities such as pharmacies, clinics, shops, restaurants and even some community serving NGOs shall be set up in residential neighborhoods to make them viable and the city planning does not seem to have catered for this.
I agree that we shall free the residential space of too many businesses, but what about those local NGOs serving thousands of Rwanda which have - for sustainability purposes - bought residential houses?
I would call for a rationale implementation of this directive. Our SMEs need breathing space as they are the engine of growth and employment creation.
David Rugamba Muhizi