The once lively car-free area in Gisimenti, Kigali, where people would go to relax, socialise, and share drinks and food, is not as active as it used to be. Business owners in Gisimenti, a place that was closed for bars and eateries over the weekends since February 2022, had their best days in June during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). But some of the businesses there, mainly bars, have now closed their doors. ALSO READ: Why has Gisimenti car-free zone lost its ‘vibe’? “When we started, and during CHOGM days, we had a huge clientele. But business has since slowed down. And the owners are frustrated,” said Daddy Niyonshuti, a businessman and member of the Private Sector Federation in Remera. He said one of the factors that led to the reduction in clientele is a remarkable increase of unruly people in the area, which led to cases of indecency, not seen in other car-free zones in the city centre and Nyamirambo area. He said, however, that the ‘anti-campaign’ on social media about Gisimenti car-free zone has made it worse. Other issues include the lack of a parking area and what is seen as a cultural tendency to not consume foods and drinks in the open. “The reason is not necessarily cultural, because people in neighbourhoods consume alcohol. What is needed is to have more complementary services available for different customers, be it young and adults,” Teddy Kaberuka, an economic analyst, told national television. The business owners in Gisimenti need to be more creative to attract more customers, Marie Solange Muhirwa, Chief of Urban Planning in the City of Kigali, said. “In Gisimenti, we want to develop a place where people can enjoy Kigali nightlife. We want the city to work 24/7 and support job creation,” Muhirwa said. She added that they advised the business owners and PSF to look for a plot that can be turned into a parking area, and officials are ready to help. Niyonshuti said one of the things that can revive Gisimenti car-free zone included organising sports activities, like on car-free days, around the area. ALSO READ: Explore the new Imbuga City Walk Freddy Muhirwa, another business owner, said that the idea of the Gisimenti car-free zone was good, but the fact that it’s weekly has made their business less creative. “If the authorities can make a car-free zone once every month, every bar owner can organise a specialty, like inviting a DJ to play music, or a dance troupe or band.” He added that free internet connection should be available in the place. ALSO READ: Sundays are for church and sports in Kigali Kaberuka said business operators should rebrand their activities, couple it with promotional bonuses, and make sure people have a better image of the Gisimenti car-free zone. “You cannot work for one year without rebranding your business,” he said. “The car-free zone remains a good idea and it needs everyone’s support, including authorities, to make sure that its image is enhanced and people can go there for recreation,” said Emmanuel Mugabe, who is in charge of consumer protection at the Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA).