Public Pressure: Kisoro Leaders Abandon Plan to Build Market on Mayor's Gardens

Passing of the resolution created a public uproar especially by environment and tourism activists condemning the act and arguing that the resolution compromises nature and a tourism asset, and accused councilors of passing a resolution with a hidden agenda of greed to grab many of the stalls in the modern market.
Part of Kisoro Mayor's Gardens (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)

Audio 4

Kisoro Municipality leaders have made a U-turn and are moving to rescind a resolution of constructing a 25 billion Shilling market in the Mayor's gardens. 

On Friday last week, the Municipality council resolved to amend the resolution of constructing a modern market at the Old Market of Kamonyi village and move it to Mayor's Gardens. The Mayor's Gardens plot 29-63 is located in the middle of the town along Rwalinda-Rukimbira Street and Kisoro- Bunagana road.  Last year, the council had resolved that the new market set to be constructed under Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement program - MATIP be at the old market site.  However, this year, officials from the Local Government Ministry went to the site for inspection and found it very small.

The site was found to be less than an acre and local leaders were advised to look for an alternative or else they lose out.  During the council session that was held at Virunga Hotel, Municipality Mayor, Richard Ndyana explained that the Production and Marketing Committee which sat on the 16th of this month resolved to have the market constructed at the Mayor's gardens because the land is enough and strategic. 

Ndyana reported that the Mayor's Gardens is public land that already has a land title that belongs to the municipality. He also said that the changes will affect Gatimba market located next to DFCU bank also along Kisoro-Bunagana road because it will be turned into the Mayor's Gardens.

Ndyana was backed by Geoffrey Nkurunziza, the Municipality speaker saying that Mayor's gardens is the only option because Kamonyi village market has no land title and there is no money for compensating some traders who own personal lockups in case they plan extension.  

However much the deputy speaker Joachim Hashakimana and the councilor representing Gasiza ward, Ronald Ntiba, and Kamonyi ward Councilor, Angellina Nyirabagyenzi opposed the resolution arguing that the council has rushed to substitute the site without first analyzing the implication, they were overruled by the rest of the councilors and the resolution was passed. 

But the passing of the resolution created a public uproar especially by environment and tourism activists condemning the act and arguing that the resolution compromises nature and a tourism asset. 

They accused the councilors of passing a resolution with a hidden agenda of greed to grab many of the stalls in the modern market. Yesterday, some of the concerned members of the public raised placards while in their homes bearing words like 'Save Mayors Gardens', and threatened to storm roads in an open demonstration if nothing is done.

 Laban Niyongabo, a birder and tour guide in a protest said that said Mayor’s Garden is home to the grey Heron and yellow-billed stork which are endemic. 

“We are striving to have a tourism city status and then our leaders go and make such a weird decision!" he exclaimed. "Think of how the Mayor’s Gardens has been serving as an oxygen purifier and now it is going to be a source of dirt and accidents!"

The public anger led Kisoro district stakeholders to convene a meeting with municipality and district leaders to discuss the matter on Monday afternoon.  The stakeholders meeting which was held at BAM 2 Guesthouse in Kisoro Municipality was attended by Sarah Nyirabashitsi Mateke, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Philemon Mateke, former Minister of State for Regional Affairs, Eng. Paul Kwizera  Buchana, Kisoro Municipality member of parliament, Trance Buchanayandi, former Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, and Colonel Deo Kaita, Kisoro District Operation Wealth Creation Coordinator.

During the meeting, Nyirabashitsi noted that since the Mayor’s gardens have created a public protest with the majority demanding its protection, municipal councilors must reverse the resolution and hold another council meeting to debate about the alternative space for the construction of the market. She said that this will restore harmony and peace in the district. 

//Cue in: “i kintu kya… 

Cue out; …mayor’s garden.’// 

Buchana says that the government’s mission is to redevelop the Old Market in Kisoro town so that vendors get a favorable operating environment but not to destroy the nature and a tourism hub of Kisoro. Ndikuyeze Ramadhan, Central division chairperson in Kisoro municipality says that the market should instead be constructed at Gatimba market instead of Mayor's gardens. 

// Cue in“twari twababaye nga… 

Cue out; …ya hijacking.”//

Richard Ndyana, Kisoro municipal mayor explained that the municipal council had resolved to construct a modern market at Mayor's gardens because it is the only land that has all the requirements as requested by the ministry of local government. According to Ndyana the Mayor’s gardens has a size of 2.5 acres compared Gatimba market that is only 0.5 acres and the old market that is 1.9 acres.

//Cue in: “ngu Ministry baraze… 

Cue out; …mayors garden,”// 

But Sharifa Nakintu, Kisoro municipal town clerk says following a public uproar about a resolution to tamper with Mayor’s gardens, they have contacted Local Government Ministry officials who have also allowed them to get another alternative space where the market will be constructed. 

Nakintu however says that Kisoro municipality is at risk of losing the project in case the fights remain. She adds that the project may be given to other municipalities that are ready.

//Cue in: “they will not… 

Cue out: …are ready.”// 

Now Geoffrey Nkurunziza, the Municipality speaker will have summon the council session to re-discuss and formalise the rescinding of the resolution.