The magnificent Cross Border Market in Rubavu district meant to be a one-stop-center for Rwandan and DR Congo traders must be operational next week.
Local Government Minister Prof Anastase Shyaka was guest of the district on Wednesday after disturbing reports. $3m (Rwf 2.8billion) was spent on the large facility by regional business services firm TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) and it handed over to Trade and Industry Ministry in March.
The Chronicles reported June 11 that “$3m Cross-border Market Lays Empty in Rubavu District“.
The few traders in it, mainly selling food items, said they had been hurriedly asked to take up spaces by the district authorities when President Paul Kagame visited the district in May.
Prof Shyaka was informed by district officials during the tour that the facility has not been fully completed. Yet, at a fanfare handover ceremony, there was no indication more construction work was needed.
There are also other issues like a pending agreement between the Trade and Industry Ministry with the district which should lay down modalities of rents and other operations in the facility.
The Minister yesterday issued an ultimatum to district mayor Gilbert Habyarimana to “do everything possible” to finish all remaining works “within one week”.
As the situation stands, Prof Shyaka was made to believe that traders are desperate to come to the Cross-Border Market.
However, in widely reported sentiments, the district has been dragging its feet, not giving sufficient information to the business community on issues like rents tariffs and who is welcome.
Amid this ignorance, traders are fearful to even make inquiries because they know automatically getting space in the facility will not come cheap. They would rather stay selling from their existing places.
The Local Government Minister said he had been to the Congolese border where he saw bustling activities, which gave him the impression that this market is actually small.
He said plans should be put in place to construct another similar facility.
The market features 160 stalls, 17 lockups, 5 cold rooms, warehouse, processing units, a kindergarten and other large rooms that can be transformed to serve as office facilities.