The City of Kigali will begin cracking down on offices operating from residential areas tomorrow, following the lapse of a deadline set earlier in the year.
In January, City authorities gave a three-month window to businesses and non-profit organisations operating from buildings designated for residential purposes to relocate to commercial complexes.
As the deadline lapses today, City authorities have said they will conduct inspections to enforce the directive.
In a letter, signed by City vice-mayor for economic development Parfait Busabizwa, on behalf of the mayor, Pascal Nyamulinda, the authorities noted that the implementation of the directive will be done in phases, starting with offices operating in residential areas.
“Over 150 offices were surveyed as having been operating in residential houses,” the signed notice reads in part.
A spot check by The New Times showed that the neighbourhoods that have a high number of offices include Kacyiru, Nyarutarama, Rugando, and Kicukiro.
However, some businesses and non-governmental organisations have been granted additional time to comply with the directive after writing to the City of Kigali to make their case.
A number of property owners have appealed to the City of Kigali for extensions.
They include those who had already paid rent for a longer time before the directive was issued and those that had been granted change of use for their property, according to the statement.
No sanctions outlined yet
In a recent interview with The New Times, Mayor Pascal Nyamulinda said they considered multiple aspects such as those who had already paid rent beyond the March deadline.
“During the extensions, we looked at the requests case by case considering the reasons given by those seeking an extension. There were cases where people had not only signed contracts but also paid money to the building owners,” he said.
However, the City of Kigali is yet to outline the sanctions for business and offices that will fail to comply with the directive.
Efforts to reach the City authorities for comment on this by press time were futile.
A mini survey earlier conducted by The New Times indicated that whereas some businesses have moved to commercial complexes, most are yet to move.
Most organisations were seeking extension and exemption, saying they were waiting for the beginning of the next financial year, in July, for new expenditure to be approved.
Some NGOs had sought exemption, saying they had to make a case to their donors on increased recurrent costs, which they say could take time to approve or never at all.
Others argued that their medium term plans had not taken into account such sudden expenditure and required time to incorporate it into their plans without affecting operations.
The directive also failed to significantly increase demand of office space as had been anticipated earlier.