Former ‘nomadic’ vendors happy to have settled

It’s now a year, when most of the vendors who illegally plied their trade in Remera had failed to settle in the area set aside for them to avoid congestion. The ups and downs of both men and women vendors who were formerly earning their living by illegally selling goods in places like the Remera taxi park and surrounding areas, are now settled after their relocation.
Agriculture Minister, Agnes Kalibata (R), and UNECA Sub Region Office Director, Antonio Pedro, chat during a meeting on food security on Monday. (Photo J Mbanda)..
Agriculture Minister, Agnes Kalibata (R), and UNECA Sub Region Office Director, Antonio Pedro, chat during a meeting on food security on Monday. (Photo J Mbanda)..

It’s now a year, when most of the vendors who illegally plied their trade in Remera had failed to settle in the area set aside for them to avoid congestion.

The ups and downs of both men and women vendors who were formerly earning their living by illegally selling goods in places like the Remera taxi park and surrounding areas, are now settled after their relocation.

Approximately, 1200 vendors, who used be in a sort of hide and seek from law enforcers as they tried to sell their goods, were relocated.

Interestingly, apart from a few, most view their new location as ‘paradise’. The new market is located near SAR motors, a company mostly known for selling new and used cars in Remera.

Paul Habyarimana, says that he used to lose goods worth almost ten thousand francs every month when escaping the law.

“However, today I am safe and even get time to settle with my family,” he says.

The development is not only good for the vendors but the clients too.

Paul Kamanzi used to purchase from these mobile vendors. He says, sometimes in the middle of a transaction, there would be commotion as the vendors tried to escape law enforcers.

“The vendors would run away without returning the change in their bid to escape from the police,” he told The Sunday Times

He says that today, he takes time to think about what he wants to buy and heads to the right and legal places such as the new location behind SAR Motors. 

Government is also gaining from tax collection as these vendors can easily be accessed. The vendors too expressed their willingness to pay their taxes.

“We pay our taxes without any reservations because of what we have already benefited from the new market in such a short period of time,” said a former ‘nomadic’ vendor.

So far, they all attribute their new fortunes to government which they say managed to quickly confirm their location to this new market.

The vendors and their clients have now adapted and accepted the new location with many saying it’s quite strategic.

On the Wednesday this reporter visited the market, it was a bevy of activity. Sellers and buyers were busy.

In this new location, everyone seems assured of security unlike in the earlier setting when it was survival for the fittest giving opportunity to petty and other crimes.

Potential thieves would feel secure in the knowledge that even the vendors were operating illegally. This is no more.
“Initially, I thought the police was just harassing us,” Kagabo, a vendor said.

“But I came to realize that the police was only wishing us the best, because even some of the police who prohibited us from selling our products illegally at the former grounds inside and outside the Remera taxi park are our clients. Some are even good friends to us too.”

According to Kagabo, many of the former vendors’ attitudes have also changed for the better.

He says many have even joined associations, cooperatives and opened bank accounts.

Initially, they used to sell goods in a cloud of fear and suspicion of each other. Today, because of sensitization they have a degree of respect and trust for one another.
They have all understood the advantages of registering their personal businesses.

This resolution was an outcome from government’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) aimed at realizing its vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Programs such as these, of relocating vendors to better work environments, are aimed at improving the overall standards of living for the Rwandan people.

It’s good to learn that we shall no longer be traumatized with scenarios of vendors running for dear life with babies on their backs. These babies’ futures seem brighter by the day.

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