March 31, 2020

Private Sector Collects Over 40 Tons of Food for Coronavirus Lockdown Distribution

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Inside the warehouse in Kicukiro district where private companies are delivering food and sanitary supplies

Private companies are lining up to deliver tons of food and sanitary supplies which will be distributed to vulnerable families as country enters week 2 of the COVID-19 lockdown.

A call was sent out last week by the Private Sector Federation (PSF), their umbrella forum, asking companies to offer anything. A warehouse has been set aside in Kicukiro, in Kigali , where the supplies are delivered. The process began on Monday.

Preliminary details obtained by The Chronicles show that as of Tuesday afternoon, pledges had reached Rwf109m worth of supplies that include maize flour, rice, beans, cooking oil and sanitary products like Soap.

So far, different companies have delivered a combined total of Rice 17 tons, Maize flour 19 tons, and Bean 5 tons.

Government ordered a 14 Day total lockdown of the entire country on March 21, in attempt to control spread of the virus, now affecting nearly all countries. As of Tuesday afternoon, number of confirmed cases remains at 70 in Rwanda. No deaths so far.

Government has promised help in form of food for the most vulnerable. Deliveries began over the weekend for food and soap.

“For the vulnerable, help is coming. It may be taking longer than expected but it is coming. Concerned agencies working on it. They may have to be a little quicker,” said President Paul Kagame in televised address to nation on March 27.

However, The Chronicles understands that Local Government Minister Prof Anastase Shyaka has informed districts that the distributions be suspended.

The Minister held a conference call with all the 30 district mayors in which he directed that they suspend all supplies distribution, as government. People doing it as individuals are not affected, but will be required to liaise with village leaders when delivering help to needy homes.

The latest changes to the promised government help to the vulnerable, comes after disturbing videos appeared on social media in which desperate people can be seen fighting over small deliveries. In some places of Kigali, people said they had been given very small amounts of food which could barely last them a day.

But even as government may have suspended its supply chain, some private individuals are continuing to help their neighbors. Social media is trending with peeople sharing images of their actions.

A source at the private sector federation told The Chronicles that PSF is collecting the supplies from companies, and will transfer the tons to government. It will decide where and who to give the supplies.

The pledges from companies have no deadline. The needs are enormous as millions of people need urgent food.

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