COVID-19: Businesses suffer due to closure of UR- Huye campus

On March 14, 2020, Rwanda confirmed her first case of COVID-19. Preventive measures involving the closure of schools and universities were taken by the government to curb the spread of this pandemic.

To comply with the government’s new measures, the University of Rwanda temporarily halted all teaching activities from Monday 16th, 2020.  Students were required to vacate their campuses as soon as possible.

Among these was the Huye campus which accommodates more than three thousand students. There are several businesses near the campus that have students as their target customers. From restaurants to barber shops, The Kaminuza Star took a peek on how businesses are being affected by the campus’ shut down.

Simon Twiringiyimana is a manager of AMORIS Restaurant that has closed after students left the campus. He understands that no students, no businesses.

“We serve students on a daily basis, we usually close when they are not around, and this is the case”, he said.

He added, “We are now worried because we don’t know the exact time we will resume. It might be two weeks or more.”

Restaurants were the most affected since students were their biggest market. However, the effects of the situation are not only limited to these restaurants.

Jean de Dieu Ngerageze is a barber near the campus. He has been experiencing a steady increase in customers due to the affordable prices. Now that the campus is closed and people have been encouraged to keep social distance, his business might also close.

“For many years, I haven’t experienced a completely empty campus before. Usually, in the holidays, there are at least a few students left to sustain our businesses,” Ngerageze explained, adding that the situation will definitely affect him financially because the barber shop was his only source of income to pay bills.

As much as businesses are affected, traders and their families who rely on daily income are also being affected. Jeanette Uwimana who owns a cafeteria near the campus, during her interview with The Kaminuza Star, was writing a letter of notification to her landlord concerning the closure of her business as she is expecting a loss from perishable goods.

Uwimana’s family that relied on her business and her landlord who depends on her rental money to cater for the family are all affected severely or subtly.

With steep changes due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is currently monitoring the economic implications of the outbreak to devise appropriate interventions.

Among the interventions, transactions via Mobile Money were made free to users for three months and the central bank and the Central Bank has put in place Rwf50 billion stimulus package to increase the liquidity of commercial banks in order to sustain lending to the private sectors.

Rwanda confirmed its first coronavirus case on Saturday, an Indian citizen who arrived from Mumbai, India, on March 8, never showed symptoms initially until March 16 when he was tested positive.By the time of press, the Ministry of Health has confirmed in a statement eleven cases of COVID-19.

The Government has urged residents to continue to observe instructions from health authorities, particularly washing hands regularly, avoiding large gatherings, and reporting any symptoms.