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Take A Look Into Life In Rwanda’s Most Densely Populated Cell


Feb. 11, 2020

It is 7:30am on a Friday morning, the hustle and bustle in Batsinda market can literally be physically felt. Young rugged men carrying sacks of foodstuffs and charcoal on their shoulders whistle incessantly asking for way. When you delay a bit, they will shove you aside with brutal force.
The small corridors between stalls in the market which is set up on a slope are too small for everyone to squeeze in. Life here is fast. When you drag your feet, you risk being knocked over by the touts moving merchandise.
Food here is affordable. A kilo of tilapia, which normally goes for Rwf3, 000 in other markets like Kimironko or Kabeza, costs Rwf2, 500. Other food items like bananas, potatoes and cassava cost less by between Rwf200 and Rwf150 compared to the prices in other markets in the city.
“Food is cheap here compared to other parts of Kigali because most of our clients are of low income status compared to other parts of the city,” explains Hassinah Uwicyeza, a fish vendor, adding that “we don’t make as much profit as fellow traders in other markets.”
Daniel Mugabo, the Executive Secretary of Kagugu Cell says that at the moment, only those building modern houses or want to renovate and modernize are the ones getting permits but ultimately, the vision is to make housing in the area affordable for the people living there.
To understand how populated Kagugu is, most sectors (sectors are obviously bigger than cells) average populations of between 8, 000 and 14, 000 in the City of Kigali or elsewhere.
The Executive Secretary also explained that given the nature of settlement patterns and the people living there, the leadership works nearly 24/7 to ensure security and prevent crimes as well as possible cases of Gender-based violence.
Previously, the area was home to Nyabugogo’s delinquent thugs commonly known as “the Marines” who also found life in the area affordable.
“They all lived here,” says Veneranda Mukankuranga, a parking attendant, adding that “today they are forced to work for a living like anybody else”.
Regardless of the challenges, life in Kagugu seems pretty affordable and harmonious. According to The Executive Secretary Murenzi, the cell is among the cells which register the least crimes in the City of Kigali.
Nightlife in Kagugu is also buoyant with some bars and local hangouts which are teeming with drinkers every night. One popular bar known as “Mu Biziriko” is said to operate 24/7. Prostitution is also rampant in the area.
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