EDITORIAL: Kigali has come far, far away and it still has way to go

20 years ago, Kigali was a very dull town, there was no vibrancy and nearly everyone seemed weary and acted like a bureaucratic civil servant.

Business people were the worst; it was as if by opening a shop, they were doing a favour to their customers. When the clock hit mid-day, they closed shop and went home for lunch, and a siesta, to return at three, open for two hours and go home at five o’clock sharp like all office workers.

The centre of town and many neighbourhoods were ghost towns at night, apart from Nyamirambo, and Remera, to some extent

To convince people to change their work ethics was something akin to magical, but the customer campaigns taken all over the country began to bear fruit. Shopkeepers go for lunch breaks no more and Nyamirambo and Remera hardly sleeps and one is assured of midnight shopping in Biryogo.

Kigali, compared to other regional capitals is tame and orderly, and so it would seem that its administrators would sail though their task breathlessly, but that has not been the case.

Kigali is ambitious and demanding, so it is not surprising that in the last three-four years or so, it has seen a very high turnover of Mayors, both at the district and city levels.

So there are a lot of expectations in the new city team which has pledged to give the city the spice it needs and be more cosmopolitan. So it was food to the ears that one of their priorities is to overhaul public transport.

Apart from widening the roads and introducing dedicated lanes for buses, they will also work around on how public transportation can become a round-the-clock operation, the same with other service providers. It is a tall order, but there is nothing as satisfying as having a front seat during Kigali’s transformation.