Some of the policies lately being established and implemented by the Kigali City Council haven’t been well-received by the public.
They include billboard vetting, whereby all content for billboards in Kigali must be approved by the city authorities prior to being put out for public consumption; and the noise pollution regulation, whereby it’s a requirement for bars, churches, and event organisers to fit sound-proof equipment.
These policies received a lot of negative feedback alleging that the City Council doesn’t involve the public in making these decisions or in their establishment.
With the billboard vetting policy, the mayor of Kigali, Fidele Ndayisaba, said every message to be posted on a billboard shall be subject to approval by the City of Kigali.
This directive raised lots of concerns from the public, some of whom thought it would hinder Rwanda’s business environment by causing delays while others thought it was an unnecessary move since there are no indecent billboards and Rwandans in their right state of minds would never put up an indecent billboard.
Another was the noise pollution regulation. The guidelines recommended fines for noise pollution and hotlines for all the districts in Kigali, which residents can call to report noise pollution in their neighborhoods. Offenders risk a fine of up to Rwf100,000.
Joseph Kayibanda who deals in hardware business, said that Rwandans should be treated like mature people without necessarily having KCC imposing policies and rules as if they are dealing with minors who shouldn’t have a say in decisions made.
He especially criticized the policy of flower pots at the front of every shop. All shops are supposed to have flower pots in front of them, a policy that was established in 2011.
“We are struggling with paying taxes which are high on top of that they are asking us to buy flower pots which cost between Rwf 15,000 to 20,000. Not all of us love flowers,” he said. “Every time I see these flower pots in front of my shop, I feel like it’s making my shop ugly because I would prefer something more artistic other than a flower pot but then I also can’t have two decorations at my door.”
Kayibanda says business owners should be given a choice to decide what they want to do and don’t want.
“They shouldn’t just enforce and impose such policies without first consulting with us and getting our ideas,” he said.
Last week, during an inspection, a few shops were locked up because of not having flower pots outside their shops.
Winnie Mbabazi who runs a coffee shop in Remera, noted that some of the policies require involvement of the public since they are the ones who are affected. She also noted that policies that sprout every so often might be a hindrance to Rwanda’s business climate thus discouraging investors, although she stressed public involvement as the solution.
“Most or even all of these policies are for the good of the nation, but once KCC just enforces them without enough involvement of the public and sensitization, they are bound to be received negatively at their implementation,” she said.
Mbabazi called upon authorities to always involve the public and sensitize them on all the policies to be implemented. She added that the directives issued should be business friendly other than being business barriers.
The Public Relations and Communication Expert at the City of Kigali, Bruno Rangira, said that public involvement has been part of the policies.
He stated that the mayor meets with members of the public every Wednesday and discusses different issues with them thus involving people before implementing policies.
“KCC also has councillors who represent the public and always discuss public opinion on different issues before policies are implemented. The investors’ forum and professionals are also engaged. We discuss with various forums that represent different categories of the public before we enforce or implement anything,” Rangira said.
He observed that every change or new policy always receives resistance and criticism and that not everybody can embrace change. He however added that KCC shall continue to engage the public in discussing all the policies that are bound to be implemented.