The City of Kigali has urged owners of commercial buildings to create parking space while those with old buildings that do not fit into the city master plan ought to revise their plans accordingly.
This was said by Alphonse Nkurunziza, the City Engineer during an interview with The New Times during which he said that all road and building construction projects in the city must fulfill the city’s one-stop-centre requirements, and parking space is one of them.
This comes in the wake of ongoing upgrades on city roads, which in some cases does not provide for roadside parking, especially on commercial complexes along these roads.
The most affected roads where roadside parking will not be possible is the City Centre- Nyabugogo road and the Kisimenti-Kimironko stretch in Remera.
“Parking space should be provided by owners of commercial buildings and all buildings that are operational should have parking space. That’s mandatory, and in accordance with the city master plan,” he said.
Using the Muhima-Nyabugogo road under construction as a case in point, the engineer noted that it was “an expressway and people should not be parking alongside it”.
The city will provide road infrastructure but owners of commercial buildings along that route, he said, should find ways of providing parking space behind their buildings or underground.
“If your building doesn’t comply with the city master plan, come to us so we can help you revise and cater for what is lacking. Those in Muhima should now come, submit their plots’ development plans and we support them to see how they can develop them accordingly and incorporate parking.”
When The New Times visited the area Thursday, workers were putting final touches to construction works on the Muhima-Nyabugogo highway.
As the city engineer put it, all that remains now is the cleaning, beautification or greening and lighting part.
“We hope that by September 15, we shall be done with everything,” Nkurunziza said.
Traders along the road welcomed the expansion and beautification work but expressed concerns about parking aspects as it affects business operations in various ways.
Badru Bamweyana, Sadolin Paints’ Sales and Marketing Manager, said the parking issue is a challenge as clients worry about being fined by traffic police.
“We haven’t yet come up with appropriate strategies to address this as we thought there is time. But for sure, parking is a problem when you consider situations such as offloading supplies or when our clients want to buy,” Bamweyana said.
Fulgence Mutabaruka, owner of Promise Hardware, another business along the Muhima-Nyabugogo highway, said that being tenants, they might opt to leave the area if the worst comes to the worst.
“We are renting and parking is really an issue. We are likely to consider moving our business if customers won’t be allowed to park nearby once the road fully opens up to traffic,” Mutabaruka said.
Further down the road is Auberge La Caverne, a hotel. Emmanuel Munyaneza, the manager of this family owned business, acknowledged that their kind of business requires ample parking space yet it is lacking.
The problem, he explained, is that in the past most city buildings never planned for parking.
“We are lucky to have some free space in the rear where we are planning to develop parking space. There is no other solution but to provide for our own parking as well as our clients,” Munyaneza said.
He told this paper that before the city embarked on overhauling the road, they talked about the city master plan and knew well in advance what was coming.
Meanwhile, the engineer warned that the City of Kigali is increasingly getting tough on building owners who make no efforts to act in accordance with the prevailing standards as set out in the master plan.
Public parking space
Regarding prospects of public parking, Nkurunziza stressed that even as they plan accordingly, it was not yet operational since land in the city is owned by private individuals and the government would have to first acquire the land to get this done.
Apart from a few areas such as at the Petit Stade in Remera, there is no publicly managed parking space but said the government was encouraging private individuals to set up and operate parking avenues.
Nkurunziza said: “In the city centre we have no parking problem. There is ample parking space at areas such as the Makuza Building, the new Ubumwe Grande Hotel complex where people at the ministry of finance park their vehicles… We have many other such parking spaces in the city.
“But the only issue perhaps is the parking charges. That is the whole issue. But in all cities worldwide, this is the norm. There must be parking fees. Another thing could be in the management of parking as I think it should be done in a manner that does not allow one to park for too long”.
The New Times has received complaints from the public that instead of more gardens along city roads, more parking spaces should be created.
An example is the Kisimenti-Kimironko road, where the road has been reduced to cater for green space, pedestrian and bicycle lanes.
Nkurunziza debunks this kind of thinking.
People with such kind of thinking are not in touch with modernity, he said, noting that it is vital to combat pollution and improve Kigali’s urban landscape, he said.
“The gardens and all the city beautification efforts are about having a green city, with all the advantages that it brings. A city is not made only of cars or vehicle carriage ways.”