Traders call for lifting of countrywide lockdown

Tuesday May 19 2020


Many streets of Kigali looked empty as business activities suspended due to covid-19. PHOTO | FILE 

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Businesses are yet to benefit from partial lifting of lockdown as most suppliers in provinces still struggle to overcome controlled movements of people.

With limitations on movement of people beyond provinces, curfew and border closure still in place, businesses say sales of goods and services remain down, leaving them with no hope of making enough money to cover running costs. Traders who spoke to Rwanda Today argue that unless complete lifting of the lockdown happen soon for movement of people and goods to resume, current ease does not spur activity for many businesses.

For instance, Francois Nduwayo who runs garment wholesale shops in Kigali said that he could take long to re-open since many of the clients hail from the provinces and secondary cities, while orders from abroad like in China and neighboring countries are now impossible to get in. “In fact many shop owners re-opened Monday to attempt to sell their existing stocks or vacate their rented shops due to uncertainties.

There is no hope yet for business unless the lockdown gets fully lifted for movement to resume,” he said. He said that, apart from businesses involved in trade of essential goods and services, which had seen clients surge with the opening up on Monday, all others have opted for the wait-and-see approach since it would be expensive to recall staff, pay rent and other operational costs when there is no hope of making revenues.

Pacifique Nduguteyi, owner of a Rubavu-based milk distribution business who had laid off his workers after sales declined by 75 per cent in March is without hope of keeping his business going.

With the Rwanda-DR Congo border still closed, he told Rwanda Today he was still uncertain about how long he will keep open. “This business depends on the border traffic, from the look of things now, I can’t even raise enough money to pay rent for a month,” he said.