SPOTLIGHT: Poor hygiene threatens Kigali dwellers

KIGALI - Efforts by both Kigali City Council (KCC) and the Ministry of Health to rid city restaurants and buildings of unhygienic conditions have so far had little impact on the ground.

KIGALI -Efforts by both Kigali City Council (KCC) and the Ministry of Health to rid city restaurants and buildings of unhygienic conditions have so far had little impact on the ground.

A mini survey conducted by The New Times recently shows that most restaurants in KCC’s three districts of Gasabo, Nyarugenge and Kicukiro have poor hygiene, with kitchens next to toilets.  Despite various government officials having visited a number of unhygienic public places and closing some of them, little, and in some cases nothing, has changed.
Kamatamu Cell of Kacyiru Sector in Gasabo District is one of such places that have operational restaurants under filthy conditions with large numbers of customers frequenting them.
All the four eating places in the area render services below sanitary standards and their toilets in a very sorry state.
Often, flies hover over these eating places, but they (restaurants) have a big clientele.
However, Emmanuel Nshimiyimana, a resident in the area said the restaurants were inspected by officials from Kacyiru Sector and given green light to continue operation because they are the only eating places there that fit the incomes of residents in surrounding area.
Nshimiyimana said that people in the area prefer paying Frw150 for a plate of food in such restaurants other than Frw800 for food served in many other eating places.
“All restaurants here are terrible. For instance if you visited ‘Kwakidumbali Restaurant’ just down there you will be shocked,” Nshimiyimana said
He added: “These are restaurants that are frequented by people who do odd and poorly paying jobs around and at King Faisal Hospital”
However, a medical attendant from the hospital dismissed reports that some workers there eat from the restaurants.
In ‘Kwamucoma eating place’ in Tetero Cell commonly known as Nyabugogo in Nyarugenge District, the restaurants’ kitchen is terribly close to a used-up latrine. The latrine killed two people a fortnight ago while they were digging a new one just close to it.   In Kicukiro District, Alpha Palace Hotel borders with a smelly water trench that runs from the cell down to other of areas of Kabeza and Kajeke.
The semi-finished tunnel, about 15ft deep and 12m wide, is believed to have created through soil erosion.
Marcel Kumbuka, a resident of Nyakabanda Cell said that the wide trench has not only become a health hazard but also turned out to be a den of robbers and thieves.
“Thieves hide there. During the dry season, the trench is filled with garbage and for that reason, it starts stinking with an intolerable stench,” he said

City sewage
Clearly, poor disposal and treatment of sewage is a factor that undermines sanitation in the city. Open sewage drainage systems are still prevalent in many areas of the city like Biryogo and Muhima sector of Nyarugenge District. 
Some places that have problems related to sewage are Kigali Serena Hotel, the headquarters of Banque Populaire, Remera prison, Rwanda Development Bank and Telecom House in Kacyiru. “This whole place normally stinks between early morning hours and 10.a.m everyday. We have always complained but in vain,” a resident around Kimironko prison, who spoke on condition on anonymity, said.
A stench caused by flowing water from several buildings in the city centre including Hotel des Mille Collines and Union Trade Centre (UTC) stuck in drainage channels around the main roundabout often discomforts clients hanging out at nearby places such as Bourbons Coffee Shop.

Asked what Hotel des Mille Collines is doing to get rid of the sewage problem, the hotel’s Director of Administration and Finance Jeanne de Dieu Mbarushimana said there are plans to install a treatment plant in the near future. He said all the required treatment equipment for the plant had been obtained.    
The General Manager of the UTC, Callixte Irisa, said that the shopping complex has a sewage treatment plant but was quick to add that it would be upgraded soon “to cope with the large influx of people who use the complex’s facilities.”
“We have a treatment plant that treats the sewage satisfactorily but there’s this smell that doesn’t originate from here. It must be coming from elsewhere,” Irisa said
The General Manager of Kigali Serena Hotel Mugo Maringa admitted that there is indeed a sewage disposal problem in the hotel.
He said that the poor sewage drainage system stems from the original constructors of the hotel who didn’t fix enough bottle traps in the facility’s forty rooms. “The hotel is undergoing reconstruction and we are now working on the rooms that didn’t get the bottle traps fixed. There will also be general fixing of galley traps to finish this problem once and for all” he said

Officials speak out
Kigali City Vice Mayor in charge of Social welfare, Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba declined to give a comment on the matter, referring The New Times to her colleague in charge of Finance and Economic, Dieudonne Rumaragishyika, who was however unavailable. But a KCC inspector Reuben Ahimbisibwe said that a commission comprising officials from KCC, the Health ministry, Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) and the National Police had carried out inspection to stamp out unhygienic problems at various public places around the city. He admitted that poor hygiene conditions are still prevalent in some restaurants around the city. “These are there and they are mainly small restaurants; we are however empowering our inspection department to cover all districts. There is definitely a lot that still needs to be done,” Ahimbisibwe said. He added that as KCC works on sanitation master plan, which will provide a lasting solution to sewage in the city, many big building owners had been instructed to install micro sewage treatment units to curb the present problems.

The Mayor of Kicukiro District William Ntidedereza said that the district has four large sewage drainage systems that need urgent attention.

He said that due to insufficient funds, the district has forwarded a report on the four drainage systems to KCC requesting for financial assistance.

Ntidedereza said that district authorities have so far closed 52 restaurants in Kabeza, Kicukiro, Kigarama and Gikondo sectors over the issue. He said more action was being taken to address the problem.

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