Rubavu closes illegal lodges

Several lodges owners in Rubavu District, Western Province have raised concerns over the closure of their businesses. They say they were closed without prior notice.The closure follows an inspection of hospitality facilities by a committee set up by the district authorities.
Best Chose Lodge, one of the closed facilities.  The New Times/ Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti.
Best Chose Lodge, one of the closed facilities. The New Times/ Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti.

Several lodges owners in Rubavu District, Western Province have raised concerns over the closure of their businesses.

They say they were closed without prior notice.

The closure follows an inspection of hospitality facilities by a committee set up by the district authorities.

During the operation, at least 23 lodges were closed out of the 25 that were inspected by the officials. The entire town has 70 lodges, according to officials.

District officials said that some of the lodges, were found to be residential houses with no form of prior modification to suit the purpose.

But lodge owners say they are not aware of required standards since they have been operating for years and that no one has ever given them guidelines needed to adjust.

Some owners say they fulfilled sanitation and other requirements that the district had previously ordered them to fulfil, but the new order – to present papers that the building were constructed to offer lodging facilities -  is almost impossible to comply with.

“My lodge was closed about a week ago. I was ordered to present the document attesting that it was meant to be a lodge during construction,” Innocent Bacamukago, the proprietor of Best Chose Lodge, said.

Bacamukago’s lodge accommodates around 20 clients per night. He says he is losing around Rwf 70,000 or more per day.

Other owners are also counting similar loses, with some claiming that the closure may have been triggered by complaints from hotel owners who were receiving fewer clients.

However, Rachel Nyirasafari Rusine, the vice mayor in charge of Social Affairs dismissed the claims, saying that the closure was justified and was driven by the desire by authorities to streamline the sector.

She added that the fact that some have been operating for years without all the requirements does not make their facilities legal.

“We closed lodges that had no full documentation as lodges, we did not close them permanently, we gave them a list of requirements, and whoever fulfils them will be reopened,” she said.

“If someone wants to turn a residential house into a lodge, they have to first get documents attesting that they have made the required modifications. We cannot continue to operate like this, we need to streamline the sector,” she added.

Some lodge operators whose lodges are not yet inspected are afraid that theirs will also be closed because they are not better than the closed ones.

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