City authorities reassure businesses over road closures

When city authorities and police announced the closure of the road section between Ministry of Justice and KBC during the AU summit, city road users thought it would be reopened immediately after.
The new bypass road as seen from The New Times office toward Kacyiru area. (Faustin Niyigena)
The new bypass road as seen from The New Times office toward Kacyiru area. (Faustin Niyigena)

When city authorities and police announced the closure of the road section between Ministry of Justice and KBC during the AU summit, city road users thought it would be reopened immediately after.

However, three weeks later, the road is still closed, and this has not gone down well with businesses and property developers in the area. However, City Hall says the roads will be opened soon, writes Business Times’ Peterson Tumwebaze. 

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Business owners decry closure of this road from KCB roundabout to MINIJUST (Faustin Niyigena)

A regional insurer is having second thoughts about developing its property adjacent the Kigali Convention Centre. At the same time, the Kigali Heights proprietor is engaged in back and forth discussions with city authorities to ensure the property in the same area is accessible from all directions.

However, the City of Kigali has come out to address their concerns, saying that the closed roads around the KBC roundabout will soon be opened.

The City of Kigali closed roads just outside the Kigali Convention Centre in preparation for the recently-concluded African Union Summit hosted by Rwanda.

Many a road user complied knowing that the measure was temporary to decongest the area during the summit. Although all traffic was diverted to use the two newly-constructed bypass roads a block away from the Convention Centre, this has created new challenges for businesses.

Though the summit ended three weeks back, the roads in question – Kigali Business Centre (KBC)-Ministry of Justice; and from Umubano Hotel-Kigali Business Centre-Ministry of Justice, are still cordoned off at either end, to and from Kigali or Nyabugogo.

Presently, for any motorist to access Kigali Convention Center, Kigali Heights, Bank of Kigali, Kacyiru branch and University of Kigali from the city centre, they have to take a longer route, turning left just before KBC to the Netherlands Embassy, and then join the new road near BK Kacyiru branch. This is more than double the distance if one used the old road now under barricades.

According to Denis J. Dernault, the general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre, city authorities are working to ensure the hotel is easily accessible. Valued at over $300 million (about Rwf223 billion), the Kigali Convention Centre is a national marvel and a potential tourist attraction site for new visitors in the city. That is why city residents, like Silvia Uwitonze, are imploring the city authorities to ease access to the facility, arguing that benefits everyone.

Investors’ concerns

With the diversions, plans by UAP Holdings, to develop its property near the Convention Centre could be affected.

However, Pauline Wanjohi, the UAP Insurance Rwanda chief executive officer, said they could not comment on the issue, referring this paper to the Nairobi head office.

Commenting on the issue, Bank of Kigali market and public relations manager Kenneth Agutamba said they have received complaints from customers “about the inconveniences created by the road closure”.

He added that the bank would engage city authorities and other stakeholders to see how they can address the challenge.

“It’s true that access to our Kacyiru branch has been limited by some of the road closures around the area…as a customer-oriented bank, we are going to engage the city authorities as partners to find an appropriate solution,” Agutamba said.

He advised customers to use alternative channels as the banks explores other possibilities for the branches affected.

Denis Karera, the proprietor of Kigali Heights, which has also been affected by the road closure, is optimistic, saying they are closely working with city authorities on a new road design that will give access to the complex.

Karera dismissed reports indicating that some of the tenants that had booked space on the complex were rethinking the contracts.

The $37 million complex is expected to house Woolworths, a global retail chain, and regional brands such as UAExchange, forex dealers, Java House Coffee Shop, and Simba Supermarket, all of which have already booked space.

City of Kigali allays fears

Commenting on the issues, Kigali City Mayor Monique Mukaruliza said the roads will be re-opened soon. She, however, did not say when they would be re-opened.

However, Reuben Ahimbisibwe, the City engineer in charge of infrastructure said that the roundabouts at KBC and Kacyiru next to the Dutch Embassy will be reopened to traffic from Kacyiru-Kabindi and back.

He also added that there will be a direct route from Kabindi to the Convention Centre main entrance.
“The only route that will remain closed to motorists is the section from the Ministry of Justice to the KBC roundabout.

The road will, however, remain accessible to pedestrians,” he said.

 

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