BUGESERA — It is past noon and the scorching sun cuts the sugar cane workers along the blowing waters of the Nyabarongo river.
As machete-wielding youth swing the sugar cane they are chewing in their mouthes, chewing sugar cane, women with children sit in the shade under the old bridge taking naps.
This is the picture of a faulty economy.
The number of bundles decides subsequent payment. Most make between 1000 and 2500.
Mere cutting the sugar cane and abandoning it in the garden earns you less pay while carrying up to the nearby loading point attracts the maximum pay.
“It all depends on your capacity but the best one can make is one tone a day.
It is a readily available job where one can join at any time he wishes” Says José Line, 16, a primary-six drop out.
The work, she says, is marred with impropriety on the side of their employers and that she and her other colleagues in the same age bracket have not been paid for the last three days.
They didn’t know where to address their concerns because they didn’t know the plantation owner for whom they work.
Jean Marie, a middle aged man from Mageregere in Nyarugenge district is among those who were recently released on presidential pardon.
He finds sugar cane cutting a flexible job but it does not pay enough compared to what it entails.
He has had problems raising the Frw3000 for rent and holding on some saving for his family left behind.
Though he appreciates that there is ready employment, its dismaring and unnerving that, like the girls, he does not know for whom he works.
Francine Muhayimana, a mother of one works as a secretary for an association of sugarcane growers called Twizambule.
Established in 2003 with 81 members, the association sells their products to Kabuye sugar factory.
“Ours is an association. We grow and cut the canes ourselves,” she says.
Muhayimana says it takes them about 20 days to be paid for the cane supplied.
Each member may get about FRW100,000.
Asked whether they don’t employ children, Muhayimana laughs a beat, then pointing to a child holding a pad, says “this one is from school and just wanted to get one for chewing.”