Nearly three weeks after the closure of the 27th African Union Summit, which saw traffic around the meeting venue – Kigali Convention Centre – diverted making the Kimihurura/KBC roundabout inaccessible, some of the sections of the roads in question remain closed to motorists.
VIDEO: How to Use Roads Around Kigali Convention Centre. Source: TheNewTimes/YouTube
The situation created an inconvenience, especially for motorists and passengers heading to the capital’s Central Business District (CBD) from Kacyiru, Remera and parts of Kimihurura, among other areas, or those heading in the opposite direction, who previously connected through the Kimihurura/KBC roundabout.
They claim that some of the alternative routes are relatively small and often get overwhelmed during peak hours, while others are not direct, and therefore longer and time-consuming.
Concerns about the road closures have also come from offices and businesses that found themselves sandwiched between the barricades, while some businesses that had booked space in the soon-to-be-completed Kigali Heights complex were also reportedly growing uneasy about the situation.
The roads are however open to pedestrians.
However, City of Kigali officials, yesterday, announced that plans to further ease movement around the area, including opening up the sections that link Kimihurura and Kacyiru roads to the KBC roundabout, are in advanced stages.
The KBC roundabout, officials said, will be partially accessed with works ongoing to widen the section of the road close to the now under-renovation KBC structure, while the other side of the roundabout (close to the Kigali Convention Centre) will fall within a planned car-free zone, which will also stretch to the new roundabout near MINIJUST.
Works to expand the road section of the KBC roundabout close to the KBC complex will make the section a two-way lane and allow motorists to directly connect either to Kacyiru or Kimihurura/Kabindi without driving around the roundabout, Reuben Ahimbisibwe, the City of Kigali official in charge of infrastructure told The New Times yesterday.
The route will have bus stops at Kigali Heights and KBC complexes.
The construction works, which are being carried out by Horizon Construction Ltd, are expected to have been completed by August 15, the same date when the two barricades restricting access to the area (one near the Dutch embassy on Kacyiru road and the other close to the KBC roundabout on Kimihurura/Kabindi road) are expected to be removed.
This, officials say, is expected to decongest traffic that’s lately become a common sight around the new roundabout adjacent to Ninzi Hotel, a few metres from Umubano Hotel.
And the bypass road behind the KBC structure which is currently being used by motorists coming from the Kabindi area heading to Kacyiru or Gishushu directions, or those travelling in the opposite direction, will also remain open as an alternative route, Ahimbisibwe said.
Meanwhile, the city authorities say a new road connecting Kimihurura/Kabindi to Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) will be constructed as part of the ongoing works to allow for direct connection to KCC for motorists from Kabindi area or Central Business District (downtown Kigali).
Motorists and passengers from the city centre heading to or going past Gishushu will connect through the section of the KBC roundabout that will be accessible to public and private vehicles, then to the new roundabout near Ninzi Hotel and through the new road behind Kigali Heights that connects to the new roundabout near MINIJUST and then Gishushu. Motorists or passengers from the opposite direction will also use the same route to reach city centre.
Ahimbisibwe said the ongoing changes were informed by a recent traffic impact assessment exercise, adding that City of Kigali officials had also conducted consultations with sections of the public, including businesses that operate around the area in question, among other stakeholders.
“We work closely with the business community to facilitate their operations because they are often the ones behind some of these developments, including Kigali Heights, which is near completion,” he said.
In an earlier interview with The New Times, Denis Karera, the proprietor of Kigali Heights, had said they were in consultations with the city authorities with view to making the soon-to-be completed business centre more accessible to the public.
The road works undertaken as a result of completion of the imposing ultra-modern Kigali Convention Centre will cost a whopping Rwf7 billion, according to Ahimbisibwe.
The road closures and diversions have not only caused traffic jams, but also saw some public transporters increase fares, arguing that the diversions meant they were covering longer distances than previously.
Meanwhile, Ahimbisibwe said the city had secured up to $76 million to expand several roads around the city and to construct new roads and bypasses to improve traffic flow.
This project, he said, has been contracted to China Road Bridge Corporation.
Some of the roads to be constructed or expanded include Nyanconga-Batsinda,-Gisozi, nd Nyabugogo-Rwandex roads.