'Giporoso 2.0': The remaking of Kigali city’s gateway

The new commercial mall at Giporoso, Dubbed Masterpiece Mall – a modern shopping complex which is ready to accommodate some of the businesses that will be affected by ongoing development. Photo: Craish Bahizi.

One of the major intersections in Kigali is currently undergoing a massive transformation that will see the popular area change forever.

Giporoso is the name of the area, arguably one of the busiest cross-sections in the country.

 

It derives its name from the English word Protestant, or the Anglican Church.

 

According to historians, the religious denomination was one of the first to set up a presence in the area. To date, it owns a large chunk of the land in the area, home to St Peter’s Church, a school and a commercial complex.

 

Giporoso is also the gateway to Kigali International Airport and Eastern Province which links the country to neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Uganda.  

It boasts of popular bars and restaurants.

A busy commercial centre has also expanded rapidly over the last few years.

Besides the establishments by the Anglican Church, the area has a mosque and multiple gas stations. It also has one of the biggest and busiest bus parks and a market all within a few square metres.

Now the City of Kigali says it is time the old town is transformed into the modern highway town it deserves to be.

As part of the developments, owners of dilapidated buildings are rushing to upgrade them to meet the City’s master plan guidelines.

All plots of land along or in close proximity to KN 5 Rd (Airport Road), KK 18 Ave (Giporoso-Kabeza), and KG 109 St (Cobblestone road to Remera Bus Park) will be affected.

According to Fred Mugisha, the director of urban planning at the City of Kigali, the process which has already kicked off, is part of the exercise to implement the revolutionary city’s master-plan.

“This is actually part of the city-wide campaign to implement the master-plan, which essentially is implemented in phases. We have specific points or focus of the city where we actually want streets to be more descent and comply with the master-plan,” Mugisha said.

This area, he added, is among those located in phase one of the master-plan implementation.

The Airport Boulevard is planned for redevelopment for commercial purposes.

Yet, Mugisha said, the Airport-Giporoso corridor is one of the areas that is lagging behind in terms of development, hence the urgent need to catch up with other sections of the city that are rapidly developing.

Property owners from the area can either upgrade the existing structures or build new ones altogether. Short of the two, the third option is to sell out to those who can put up structures to the required standards.

When The New Times visited the area last week, property owners on the road from Giporoso intersection towards Kabeza (KK 18) had started tearing down some of the oldest establishments, while some investors on either side of the junction are in the process of setting up brand new buildings.

An example is the Airport-Giporoso corridor where investors have completed Masterpiece Mall - a modern shopping complex which is ready to accommodate some of the businesses that will be affected by ongoing development.

Chirag Daswani, the Managing Director of SRI Investments Limited behind Masterpiece Mall told The New Times in an interview Monday that they have sufficient space for affected businesses.

“Existing businesses that are operating on the affected side can come here [to the new mall]. The area is going to be completely revamped. It will be stunning,” he said.

Daswani added that they are already in negotiations with businesses such as MTN Rwanda, Banque Populaire du Rwanda, and Bank of Kigali to relocate their Remera-based branches to the new mall.

City officials have extended a grace period of up to three years to accord those with limited finances ample time to raise funding for redevelopment.

Mugisha, the City Engineer told The New Times that the Giporoso area is largely designated for commercial use.

The master-plan requires landowners to set up storied structures with a maximum height of four floors.

“We want to have homogeneous architectural language; we should be speaking the same language in terms of outlook. That is one of the general guidelines,” Mugisha said.

In a nutshell, all facilities along or in the proximity of at least 300 meters from the main tarmac road [KN 5] will be affected.

Demand for commercial spaces

According to the City Hall, the decision to ask businesses to revamp their properties is also part of an ongoing drive to provide adequate commercial and employment hubs to support the increasing demand for commercial spaces.

A study conducted by The City of Kigali that reviewed the occupancy level of a sample of 456 commercial buildings indicated that Kigali has an occupancy level of 85 per cent.

The Remera area, where Giporoso is located, has the highest occupancy rate of 93.1 per cent, followed by Nyabugogo and Kacyiru at 89.5 per cent and 89.3 per cent respectively.

That, the city said, reflects the demand for commercial spaces in the near future.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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