The city of Kigali has a requirement that all shops must have flower pots at their entrances. I learned this yesterday from our local newspaper, The New Times.
According to the article “Kigali City residents bemoan KCC* policies,”
[a business owner,] who deals in hardware business, . . . especially criticized the policy of flower pots at the front of every shop. All shops are supposed to have flower pots in front of them, a policy that was established in 2011.
“We are struggling with paying taxes which are high on top of that they are asking us to buy flower pots which cost between Rwf 15,000 to 20,000. Not all of us love flowers,” he said. “Every time I see these flower pots in front of my shop, I feel like it’s making my shop ugly because I would prefer something more artistic other than a flower pot but then I also can’t have two decorations at my door.” . . .
Last week, during an inspection, a few shops were locked up because of not having flower pots outside their shops.
I don’t know how many or what size pots are required. Rwf 15,000 is about US$24.
Back on January 19, I was also diverted by the article “Eleven arrested smuggling plastic bags:”
The police have arrested 10 Burundians and a Rwandan found smuggling 400 cartons of plastic paper bags and marijuana into the country.
The suspects were arrested in Kibungo town. They were travelling by bus heading to Kigali, from Kirehe district.
Police said the suspects had smuggled the goods through one of the most notorious entry points on the Burundi and Rwanda border in Gahara sector.
Rwanda banned disposable plastic bags in 2005. The ban was effected in three years later. However, Rwanda, which replaced the menacing bags with paper bags, is the only country of the five EAC member states with effective policy on plastic bags.
The initiative was a response to the plastic’s negative environmental impact, amid extensive physical presence of bags across the country.
Supt. Benoit Nsengiyumva, the Eastern Province Police spokesman, said the suspects would be charged as soon as investigations are complete.
“Rwanda is now entering its fourth year with a nationwide ban on all plastic bags. This is what we are guarding; as Police and we won’t rest,” he said.
Nsengiyumva said the suspects would also be charged with illegal entrance into the country and trafficking in marijuana, an illegal drug.
Note which crime is emphasized in the article.
Rwanda takes its restriction of plastic very seriously. Passengers arriving on international flights are warned to leave behind their duty-free store bags, and once, returning from Pretoria, I had to pull off all the security plastic wrap from my suitcase before I could exit the baggage area.
While I could go either way about storefront potted plants, I do like this plastic bag prohibition. I remember how the last place we lived in Africa — Niamey, Niger — was just inundated by this particularly obnoxious form of trash. The bags are such a plague on the continent that a common joke is to refer to them as the national bird, seen nesting in the trees and fields.
But they are extinct in Rwanda.
. . . And behold,
the plastic bag is magic;
there is no closing it. . . . .
*Kigali City Council