Huye extends deadline for city center re-development

Authorities in Huye District, last month, instructed many owners of commercial buildings in the city’s central business area to start redeveloping their premises in accordance with the town’s master plan.

Authorities in Huye District, last month, instructed many owners of commercial buildings in the city’s central business area to start redeveloping their premises in accordance with the town’s master plan.

In a July 9 letter, Mayor Eugene Kayiranga Muzuka instructed all traders to vacate the buildings by July 31 to pave way for the redevelopment.

A subsequent meeting with local businesspersons also maintained the district’s position on the matter.

However, three weeks after the deadline expired, shops are still operating in the same old structures that authorities have threatened to lock down.

The directive caused outcry among the business community, with some asking for more time to prepare while others had threatened to indefinitely close down their businesses or relocate to other towns.

Plan still on

However, Muzuka told this paper that the district has not abandoned its plans to push for the city’s renovation.

He said authorities suspended the decision to lock down the buildings after landlords approached them and presented their plans for the development of their respective complexes.

“Almost all of them came to us with a plan for modern structures. Some of them even made written commitments,” Muzuka said.

However, the mayor could not provide the exact figures of those who are set to start setting up modern commercial buildings.

“Some of them said they would start redeveloping their structures within three months. Others said they will have started their works in five months,” the mayor said.

Losing status

According to Muzuka, the most important thing is the will of the business community to erect modern commercial buildings within the town.

“We consider that an important step. Many of the landlords were not even considering renovating their old buildings, but now there are clear plans to give our town a face-lift and everyone seems committed,” he said.

Huye, long touted as the second city after Kigali, has been under intense pressure from various actors to change its image of an old city.

Critics say the district has for long failed to make use of its ‘strategic position’ and the various institutions, including research and higher learning institutions, churches and historical places, to develop.

But Mayor Muzuka maintains that efforts are being made to ensure that all available resources and opportunities are exploited to give the town a new face-lift.

“We believe that by the beginning of next year there will be a lot of construction projects that will be underway,” Muzuka said.

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