Landlords ‘Powerless’ as Huye Commercial Complexes Remain Empty

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By Daniel Sabiiti

In the far city of Huye town, shopping centers were built in anticipation commercial boom that failed to materialize are getting increasingly desperate for tenants.

It took years to convince the Huye business community to upgrade their houses and build commercial structures in line with the country’s vision 2020 and it may now take more effort to profitably utilize the new structures.

Since 2011, this city saw seven new commercial houses erected within the commercial zones, the construction of Huye main taxi park with two storied commercial houses, and one more catholic-church owned commercial building soon to be completed.

This boom in real estate business has however seen a major setback as result of lower occupancy, which is attributed to high charges of rent and continuous business operations in undesignated business areas.

“We are not getting clients for our commercial houses and yet we built them with conviction that we will get business” said Vincent Semuhungu who owns four storied house structure in the district town center and has only 25 percent occupancy leaving the other three floors empty.

In Huye main tax park small business are enjoying and organized and clean business environment after they were shifted about two years ago to the new bus park.

Jean Paul Uyisabye, who manages the modern commercial buildings at the district Taxi Park says that 60 percent of the buildings have clients, even when the business looks good from the transport side.

“Those who have managed to occupy the space here, are only on the ground floor. The upper floors have remain empty” Uyisabye said.

Butare town, which is known as the ‘Intellectual district’ of Rwanda is a host to several service providers, Non- governmental organisations, parastatals and profit oriented businesses.

Most of them continue to operate in the old fashioned residential houses especially in areas called Itaba, and Cyarabu “Arab zone”- which only announced a facial uplift to be funded by the Muslims community.

Lack of occupancy for commercial buildings is believed to be causing major losses and failure to repay bank loans for business owners who had invested in real estate.

In some cases, these complexes have stood for two years, the elements wearing down the finishes on their exteriors.

The business community in Butare town however say that the high rent costs for the new structures has scared them away.

“I wanted to buy space in these new structure for Rwf100.000 but they charged me Rwf350.000 per month. I decided to get space in a cheaper residential backyard” said Maurice Mutabazi, a tailor.

Real estate business owners are now demanding that the district authorities push the business owners, starting with the service sector to occupy the empty structure to avoid further loses.

The Southern province governor, Marie Rose Mureshyankwano says there is need to have another round table open discussion with the business community to convince them on the importance of shifting to commercial structures.

In Kigali city, the heat is on as the City Of Kigali authorities have given until April this year, to have all businesses operating in residential areas shift to designated commercial zones.





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