Resumption of RwandAir cargo flights to Dubai is expected to ease pressure on local traders who have been struggle to stock their businesses.
Many traders in Rwanda depend on the gulf market for a wide range of goods, from electrical appliances, phone accessories, furniture, Smart phones, as well as other consumer goods.
The traders, especially those who deal in fast moving goods had run out of goods since RwandAir suspended flights to Dubai as the country swung into action to control the spread of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.
Rwandair transported a big chunk of imports from Dubai, thanks to the three flights a week it operated, but since the suspension cargo transportation had been grounded.
When Rwandair suspended flights to Guangzhou China in 2020, many of the Rwandan traders who imported goods from China opted for Dubai, taking advantage of the three weekly flights. “Following the temporary suspension of the Dubai route, please note that RwandAir is now operating Cargo *ONLY* flights from Kigali to Dubai on Tuesday, Thursday & Friday”
“The return flight from Dubai to the rest of the network will be operated normally with passengers and cargo on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday” read a statement from Rwandair.
“The suspension of flights to Dubai has hurt us, we import most of our products from Dubai, so improvising with a cargo only flight to Dubai during this time of suspension is a big relief” said Habineza Athanase a trader in Kigali.
“I had run out of many of the phone accessories and other gadgets that customers come looking for, I have not been selling and I am losing money”
He said the only alternative they had was to go back to importing from China, “but this also sometimes takes three months and there are many risks involved.”
“The first two months of the year are ordinarily not good for business, but when one adds to the unfortunate developments caused by the pandemic it gets worse, yet we have to pay taxes, rent and other costs” he said.
Many traders didn’t have to go to Dubai but could just send money and have their goods delivered to Rwanda, others organised and sent one of their fellow traders who could bring goods for multiple traders.
Other traders and businesses that imported goods from Southern Africa suffered the same fate in November when flights to Southern Africa were suspended.