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Rwanda:Threat of closure hangs over K- Club

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Is Mayor Ndayisaba set to close Kigali’s top nightclub?

By Gonza Mugi

newsdesk@greatlakesvoice.com

KIGALI-Rwanda-Reports are emerging that a decision has been taken by Kigali City Authorities to close down up market Nyarutarama based K-Club discotheque.

Earlier this year, the District of Gasabo closed a Kobil filling station located next to the KL building housing the nightclub citing safety concerns.

Highly knowledgeable sources say the after intense lobbying by the representatives of Kenol-Kobil, the regional oil retailing company which owns the closed petrol station, a decision has been taken to instead shut the club.

City authorities have insisted that the petrol station cannot reopen while the nightclub is still operating from there.

When contacted, Kigali city Mayor Fidel Ndayisaba described those reports as rumors adding that the issue was being handled by the District of Gasabo which has the competence in its jurisdiction and refused to specifically comment on issue.

However, sources privy to discussions within government circles say that a decision has been taken to close the high profile club before the New Year.

This was apparently after it was determined it would be very controversial to close the club so soon after the Papyrus Bar and restaurant saga [another top entertainment spot] whose discotheque the Mayor had temporally closed before the Prime Minister Habumuremyi intervened and allowed the facility to operate.

Information yet to be independently verified suggests that on Monday, 5th November, a meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s office after many officials disagreed with the Mayor Ndayisaba on how to proceed.

Sources say that this meeting chaired by the Prime Minister was attended by the Mayor Ndayisaba, Gasabo Mayor Willy Ndizeye, acting CEO of Rwanda Development Board [RDB] Akamanzi Claire, Private Sector Federation [PSF] Chairman Mbundu Faustin, PM’s Director of Cabinet Eugene Barikana among others.

Apparently, the Prime Minister had to intervene and host the meeting because most of the stakeholders had failed to agree with Ndayisaba’s position. The Prime Minister’s office had not responded to our queries by press time.

This source insists that Ndayisaba was of the strong view that the discotheque must close and the meeting seemed to have concluded in his favor though most officials did not support the closure.

It is reported that at the insistence of Mayor Ndayisaba, it was resolved to shut down the night club but delay the action to early next year so as to avoid a controversy so soon after another saga involving the Papyrus nightclub.

In a lengthy telephone interview the City Mayor Ndayisaba denied any role and insisted he was not directly involved with the K- Club issue and continuously referred all questions to the Gasabo Mayor.

Gasabo District Mayor Ndizeye Willy said the various concerned government bodies had met and put in place a technical team to investigate and advice on the next step. Ndizeye refused to divulge the composition of the team and who specifically met but said both central government, city and district authorities were represented.

Interestingly, technical people at Gasabo district who would normally be involved in such issues say they are not aware of any technical team investigating the issue.

Worrying for investors

The proprietor of the nightclub Emmile Mulego said he has not received any official communication that he must close by end of year, and insisted the facility enjoys high standard safety measures.

Mayor Ndayisaba said that there are regulations put in place on how safety measures wherever a fuel station is located are enforced. He noted that while it was possible to have offices, shops, restaurants and supermarkets next to petrol stations, facilities hosting many people like schools, churches, and discotheques are not allowed.

He said that in the later case people where stationary and possibly drunk in case of nightclubs.

On this basis, the KL building was licensed for commercial purposes but this is counteracted by the argument that commercial licenses do not specify what type of business activity should take place at what time. On a visit to the site, construction work on an extension to include a bakery, coffee shop and an extension of K-Club is underway. New parking is also being set up. The closed Kobil station has nig land further downside where the fueling station could be shifted.

Information available indicates that an agreement had been reached between the two parties for the petrol station to open during the day from 6:00 AM to 8:00PM and for the nightclub to open the rest of the night hours. The agreement is awaiting approval of city authorities.

News reports indicate that Kenol -Kobil is already exiting the Rwanda market after their Rwanda business was bought by another company.

If indeed closure of K- Club is a matter of weeks away, what would be the consideration for the investor who has sunk in millions and employs almost one hundred people. The question is with investors putting in a lot of money but have to face a persistent fear of having their businesses closed. Mayor Ndayisaba said any investor who cheats the rules, faces the consequences.

With many people complaining about the slow growth of Kigali’s nightlife, the closure of one of the few genuine tourist entertainment destinations, the city’s allure could diminish further.

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