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Bikini economics – less is more

THE closure of Papyrus in Kimihurura was the source of a lot of last week’s conversations with opinion coming firmly against the Mayor of Gasabo District, Mr. Willy Ndizeye, and his team. In our fair land it seems that many authorities take an inordinate pride in shutting businesses down and while it may be said that many of these businesses needed to be closed, I hardly think closure is the solution in every case.
Oscar Kabatende
Oscar Kabatende

THE closure of Papyrus in Kimihurura was the source of a lot of last week’s conversations with opinion coming firmly against the Mayor of Gasabo District, Mr. Willy Ndizeye, and his team. In our fair land it seems that many authorities take an inordinate pride in shutting businesses down and while it may be said that many of these businesses needed to be closed, I hardly think closure is the solution in every case.

That would be like executing people no matter the gravity of their crimes. It’s a style of governing better suited to a concentration camp.

As a business, you face closure at any moment from a multitude of government organs ranging from the Environmental people at REMA, the Bureau of Standards, Rwanda Revenue Authority and any number of local authorities ranging from the City Mayor to the Sector leader.

On top of the risk of finding a huge padlock on the door of your business premises, there are innumerable forms to fill and queues to join to ensure that bureaucratic monster is kept happy. Admittedly, it’s no longer as bad as it used to be a few years ago but the whole process is still a drag on time, resources and energy. In short, it’s a hard life for a businessman.

The case of papyrus is interesting in that it has been in operation for at least 5 years, in which time the parking issues have been a constant. In this, they are not special, Kigali simply wasn’t designed with parking in mind. Will the good Mayor be closing down Kisementi next? Getting a parking spot over there is like winning the lottery.

 The truth is that there are very few establishments in Kigali with ample parking space and the offices of the District of Gasabo are not one of them. Which leave one wondering at the motivation of the mayor’s decision, why close a place for a fairly common shortcoming in this city after 5 years?

If the reasons for closure were unconvincing, the Mayor’s suggestion to the hapless owner of Papyrus to stop serving alcohol in order to attract fewer clients was outrageous. On top of the constitutional issues around executive authority instructing private business on what to sell, the whole idea that the owner of papyrus should aim at attracting as few people as possible as a business model is ridiculous.

This is Bikini economics at its best, where less is more. Of course a few clients is better than being completely shutdown but the message to the business community and potential investors, especially those in the entertainment sector, is a discouraging one.

Sunday was the tenth anniversary of America’s largest terrorist attack on its soil. Appropriately, the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was marked in the knowledge that Osama Bin Laden, former leader of Al Qaeda, is dead and his organisation is currently in disarray.

Its not the end of the war on terror but at least we were spared the inevitable audio recording gloating about the innocents lost in his jihad against, well...everybody.  Ten years after that terrible morning, the terrorists can still inflict pain but, for the most part, they cannot make us all live in fear,

Sunday was also the 6 month anniversary of the triple disaster that hit Japan’s Northeast coast causing more than 15,000 deaths. On March 11th of this year an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale hit the area followed by a tsunami that measured more than 35 meters high in some places.

The tsunami led to explosions and meltdowns of reactors at a nuclear station in Fukushima that have made an area corresponding to a 20km radius around the station uninhabitable for at least 20 years. A huge tragedy by any measure.

The Japanese people have dealt with it with quiet resolve and just last week pledged to continue developmental aid to Rwanda. Even while dealing with a national disaster, Japan will honour its commitments.  The world has much to learn from Japan.   

Ends

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