Within Remera taxi park, there is more activity than just the shouts from stage masters luring passengers into their vans. It is late in the evening and swarms of people gather at one end.
Upon taking a closer view, one notices that they are attracted by the various commodities mostly second hand clothes, some strewn on the ground and others hanging in stalls.
Due to the stiff competition, other traders choose to carry their wares and roam about the park. Most of the customers are women seemingly drawn to a wide range of colourful clothes.
At the entrance are stalls stocked with a variety of cosmetics that seem oblivious to the passengers who instead move to the ‘clothes corner’.
Strategically positioned, the market captivates passengers, delaying their initial intention of catching a taxi to their next destination.
This is slightly different during the day. It is close to midday. The over head sun is getting hotter. At the same park the traders are taking shelter under their stalls with only a few hawking their wares.
Meanwhile passengers stream into the park finding their way to waiting taxis. Dodo Twahirwa, Atraco Director General said that trading started when the park opened.
“They came from markets and asked me if they could operate from there and I allowed.”
He recalled that at the start they were a small group but since 1994 when the park was opened the number of traders increased. This has created a mini market bringing commodities closer to the people.
It has become an easier option than Nyabugogo market also popular for second hand clothes and other wares. In fact, one of the traders reveals that some of the Nyabugogo traders have also opened stalls in the park in search of a bigger consumer presence.
“We have some traders who bring their commodities from Nyabugogo and start selling from here,” Twahirwa confirms.
And explains that the number of traders have increased over the years thus broadening the market that was once insignificant with mostly hawkers selling paltry commodities.
Another trader also disclosed that some of those selling commodities were at one time hawkers on the roads who have found a safe haven in the park from the previous police threat.
“Some of those trading here were at one time in constant conflict with the police. Some were arrested and served sentences in prison because the hawking business is illegal,” he said.
“Here the police don’t disturb us,” he says. But further discloses that he is one of those that were arrested and locked up for two weeks.
The market is seemingly well organised in phases. At the front are the traders who display things on the ground. Immediately after them are those who suspended them on the stalls.
One of the buyers, a woman had just finished haggling for a sweater. She seemed happy with her purchase and upon inquiry said, “It is easy to get what you want. The prices are low.”
She prefers it to Nyabugogo market, as it is a convenient shopping place because it is on her way home. She further explains that Nyabugogo is too big and it takes more time to get the things one wants. However, this mini-market that has rapidly evolved over a period of four years may soon come to an end.
“They are temporarily here (traders) and at anytime they are out,” said Twahirwa alerted.
“We are planning to renovate, they will have to leave. We might start next month.”
These vendors represent a wider society that is positively affected by their business. This economic activity has helped feed, clothe and educate hundreds of others who solely depend on it.
Until such a time when the market will have to be closed and the vendors relocate, it is business as usual. And one can only hope that by the time of its closure, another location or suitable solution will be found to ensure that those relying on these vendors are not drastically affected.