While sharing a few drinks with friends a couple days back, the topic of the conversation, which was the the just concluded European football, took a turn to the local scene as we begun discussing the recent closure of the small kiosks around the Kiyovu area.
We were unanimously opposed to the decision taken by the City Council in this regard. I will not lie and say that we were unbiased for, you see, our favorite watering hole was one of the many little shops that were razed to the ground.
However on closer examination, this issue wasn’t one to be ignored because it went much further than me simply having to find another place to enjoy my favorite tipple. I’m all for the development of Kigali city into a proper metropolis and all; however, I’m not sure that the people trying to implement this dream are going about it the right way.
I honestly don’t see how, with the kind of unemployment problem we have, we can remove people’s livelihoods just like that. Where do you expect them to go and what do you expect them to do?
The chances are that these fellows will wander about, with a bit too much time on their hands, until they decide that a life of petty crime is better than a life without a few francs in their pockets.
What about their former customers? Whenever I hear the guys over at City Hall talk about the small kiosks we hear that these buildings were an ‘eyesore’. However, did they ever ask themselves why these shops didn’t go bust? They had a clientele that found them convenient and cheap.
Not everyone will be able to shop at Ndoli’s Supermarket but almost everyone will be able to buy a few groceries at the neighborhood shop. But what happens now? We have a situation where the convenience in shopping has gone right out the window for the customer while the former proprietor is now jobless.
So, who gains anything in the end? Certainly not we the customers and neither does the poor fellow who has seen his livelihood taken away from him. But who is to blame for this lose-lose situation?
I don’t believe that it is the City Council’s fault; certainly they are the ones who put this policy in place. But, all over the world, bureaucrats are almost always out of touch with the common folk and therefore make these kinds of gaffes.
Some other power, however, keeps these bureaucrats from going off the deep end. What is this force that, even the fellows in their high and mighty offices, must bow to? The People.
In a situation like ours where the bureaucrats sometimes seem out of touch with the common folk, the civil society must stand up and be counted.
People always wring their hands and mutter under their breaths as they suffer the consequences of their silence but it doesn’t have to be like this.
Case in point-remember when they banned taxi-moto?There was an outcry that was so loud that the people up there had to reverse their decision.