BY LINDA MBABAZI
Women scampered when Gasoba District official launched an afternoon raid to rid the city of illegal vendors.
Some street vendors weighed down with babies on their backs and baskets of foodstuffs fell victims when all their capital was confiscated.
A Gasabo official, who refused to identify himself, was seen ordering five local defence personnel to pounce on the nearby ladies selling foodstuffs.
The local defence personnel confiscated several basketfuls of tomatoes, eggplants, green vegetables, onions and cabbages.
The merchandise was all loaded on a waiting Gasabo District local government pickup truck ---GR 505C.
The crackdown comes at a time the licenced business community in the city complain that unregulated and unlicensed street vendors are edging them out o business.
“They can sell at any prices. They locate their businesses in any strategic places. They do not pay market dues and licence fees,” a stall owner was heard saying.
The alleged manhandling of vendors during the Saturday operation at Kimironko market has sparked off protests. Vendors were heard saying ‘they are treated more like wolves than human beings when it comes to confiscating their commodities.’
“As if seizing our commodities is not enough to traumatise us, but often, those local defence gentlemen beat and even insults us before our clients,” yelled Claudine Mbabazi, one of the vendor’s whose items were seized.
While shading tears, Hadija Mukamusoni admitted that they know that they are operating illegally. But hastened to add that the authority should remember that they are also underprivileged, and, struggling for survival in a country the costs of living is extremely high.
But Kigali City authorities will not listen to vendors. They call vending ‘a cause of chaos, which often, results into accidents and thefts.’
“Are you aware of this operation? It’s meant to evict all businesses that may cause congestion in City of Kigali,” the official said.
One of the victims of the afternoon operation was heard saying, “We are not here to cause chaos in the city; we are only struggling for survival.”