Taxis are hooting, touts are calling passengers into the waiting mini buses that carry passengers on town service routes out of Kigali city.
The Nyabugogo Tax Park is always bustling a lot of traffic noise and different types of music being played by radio cassette tape sellers.
At the Nyamata stage, Atracto men are fighting with hawkers who thought they would carry out their normal duties. But they cannot. The Kigali City Council has stopped them from doing any business in this area, claiming reasons of poor hygiene.
However some news paper venders and telephone operators commonly known as ‘tuvugane,’ have been allowed to operate in the taxi park, but they must wear a uniform before entering.
But the situation has changed. Hundred of hawkers who have been making a living in the tax park have been evicted. Soft drink sellers have been evicted from the area, as well because of arguments with the Atraco law enforcement officers.
The vice president of Atraco, Fransuer Sengiyuna, said several unregistered hawkers had compromised the cleanliness of the park. They don’t bother to clean the area where they operate and were in a habit of dumping garbage.
Often, disposed waste in the Nyabugogo channel would block running water. Atraco’s major concern was increasing reports that passengers were loosing their valuables to pickpockets and thieves who have been conniving with hawkers.
This operation has left venders frustrated. Some claim their families are starving as they cannot afford meals in the city since their source of income has been stopped.
Other hawkers claim they have spent four days without food since the crackdown on hawking took place. But Atraco will not listen. They maintain they want order in the park.
Recently, a young boy selling soft drinks had to run for his life and it was too late for his earnings to be salvaged. All the bottles were confiscated, leaving the boy in tears and speechless. All that he had was taken by enforcement officers.
The move has angered the Twunguke Cooperative Society, an association of shop owners operating in the park. The shop owners, who have been supplying the hawkers with goods to sell to passengers, claim Atraco authorities never informed them when they carried out the exercise.
Vice Chair Person of the Twunguke Cooperative Society, Edrisa Sengoga, said the hawkers are their first-hand or middle-men customers who link them with passengers. He says some passengers don’t get enough time to get to their shops, but the hawkers can direct them or bring them.
To enforce hygiene in the park, the crackdown has extended to the shops. No store is allowed to operate with a dustbin anyhow, to avoid littering.
Some kiosks that could not measure up to the standards were demolished. Mwizere Marie and Aaron Twayituriki are kiosk attendants blame the authorities because they were not notified.
Some restaurant operators have begun complaining about the lack of customers because some of them were hawkers. Mama Doreen, a restaurant operator commonly known as Kwamugande, fears if things don’t change, they will soon be out of business.
She has been instructed to paint her building and clear the pool of water that has formed near her eating place due to poor drainage.
Some of the people interviewed had amazing views about the eviction: “I prefer death to leaving this place,” said Foster Mporansenga, a shoe shiners. He says he has worked at Nyabugogo for a period less than two years.