One week since the government banned inter-district and any other movements to and from the City of Kigali food sellers have raised concerns over the slump in supply.
Speaking to The New Times, Manasseh Twizerimana who supplies poultry products in Kimironko market says that since the decision to halt the movements was made, there are some traders who also decided to suspend business.
He explained that before the directive, traders in his line of business would come together and travel to the Eastern Province where they would purchase chicken in bulk and then collectively proceed to hire a special taxi to transport their merchandise to Kigali.
However, he explained that the new directive means that getting chicken to Kigali has become a challenge because the trucks that are allowed through these routes have become more expensive and also prefer bigger businesses.
“It is hard to get someone to bring you chicken but also, most of us are not comfortable sending money to someone on the phone but also in our line of business, you have to look at the merchandise before purchasing since our clients’ expectations are high,” he said.
Twizerimana says that the directive has not only affected prices but cut down the number of customers as some started thinking that another lockdown was eminent.
“The standard fee for my chicken was between Rwf7, 000 and Rwf8, 000. Currently, I am selling at Rwf9, 000 or Rwf10, 000. It is frustrating for both the consumer and the supplier,” he said.
Dennis Karera who trades in Kabuga market, one of those that supply businesses in Kigali says that his failure to travel to Mutara is affecting his business.
“I used to board a bus and travel to Mutara (eastern province) to purchase but that, of course, has stopped. That means that right now, a kilo of beans that was between Rwf250 and Rwf300 is now Rwf500. It is getting harder every day,” he said.
He explained that although normally this season would mean harvesting and therefore a reduction in prices, whether it is beans or maize, most commodities are becoming scarce on the market.
Tight on cars
According to the government directive, trucks dealing in the transportation of commodities are allowed to move freely on condition that the number of passengers, including the driver does not exceed two.
However, Karim Uwimpaye, who drives a truck between Gicumbi and Kigali says that this has limited the number of people who are coming to Kigali to purchase merchandise.
“Not everyone can afford to hire a truck and not all traders are willing to hand their money to one person to do the purchasing for them. Others have not yet embraced the idea of sending money and receiving goods. It has been tricky for many,” he said.
Clarisse Uwineza says that she has previously used the bus to and from Musanze where she gets her produce that she sells in Kigali.
She says that on average, she was purchasing about 50 sacks on groundnuts and maize a month but that number has significantly dwindled.
“I don’t think that I will be having anything in stock by the end of this week. I am trying to see if any of the trucks can carry something for me but truck owners prefer big businesses,” she said.
The Minister of Trade Soraya Hakuziyaremye reminded that during this period, there is no need for traders to stop running their business when there is an option of using technology.
“Although these movements are suspended, trucks carrying goods are exempted. Traders should go on with their business as usual and where necessary, they can incorporate technology to order and pay for goods,” she said.
She touched on the decision to order all businesses to close by 6pm saying that this was aimed at protecting both the consumer and supplier of services.
“Covid-19 attacks both a buyer and a seller. Our thinking is that if people close businesses early, then they are able to avoid crowded places like bus parks and they are also able to beat the curfew and make it home by 8pm, curfew time,” she explained.
She reminded the business community not to take advantage of the new measures to hike places, pointing out that inspections will continue all over the country.
Source: The New Times