LILLIAN NAKAYIMA discovers how city dwellers are keeping pace with Kigali’s changing development trends
“It's survival for the fittest,” so we say. It has become a common belief in people’s minds that only the fittest will stay in Kigali.
Over lunch or perhaps on evening outings, the corporate are complaining about the changes especially in commodity prices that will leave them with no option but blaming it on the fast rate of Kigali’s development.
It’s pretty clear that transport fairs have changed (which is the case in any developing country). Four years back, Rwf 50 would take you to your destination within city suburbs.
Two years later, transport fares had risen to Rwf100 but when the fuel prices hiked, it also rose to Rwf150 and kept on rising up to Rwf 170.
Rwanda being ranked one of the fastest developing countries in the world and Kigali being its capital has put the city under pressure to maintain the speed at which it’s developing. Take an example of the housing sector.
“In case one is to build a house in a convenient area, they should consider a bungalow or else expect being bought off by people with more means,” says Isma Ngiruwonsanga.
He adds that, “The cost of living in Kigali is high, ranging from rent to food.”
Though he is employed and gets a monthly salary of Rwf 300,000, by the end of the month, he rarely has a penny on him because of the day to day demands he has to meet which are costly. When he breaks down his salary, one easily sees that he doesn’t save even 2% of his monthly income.
“I pay house rent of Rwf 80,000 every month,” he says adding that houses are getting more expensive. He says that to get an “average” house in Kigali today, one has to part with money ranging from Rwf 100,000 to Rwf 150,000.
“We only afford the basic, we can not afford luxurious things, our income doesn’t allow,” says Marie Ange. She earns Rwf 320,000 and is a married mother of one.
Though her husband is employed, Ange says that by the time the month gets to the 26th, their pockets and bank accounts are wiped out. something that makes them envy people who have prospered in business.
“I earn an average of Rwf 25,000 a month if all goes well,” says Anonsiata Mugeni. She counts herself lucky because she invested her first big sum of money in oranges a business that is her lifeline.
As the middle income earners plan to buy bread, beef, rice for their meals, the low income earners see it as extravagance and a dream.
“We don’t even have two meals a day,” she says while explaining how together with her two children “enjoy” only breakfast and dinner.
Asked what they feed on, many low income earners say Ubugari is the best they can afford. A kilogram goes for Rwf 350 yet a kilogram of rice goes for Rwf 700 plus. To replace the beef that most people can’t do without, Ndagara (silver fish) is taken .
“I break down the Rwf 30,000 profit that I earn and save just Rwf 1000 a month,” says Amiable Gasana. Being a vendor that’s the money he can get for a profit so it’s what he uses for every personal issue including rent.
As Kigali develops, the struggle continues for everyone to survive without being shaken by the developments.