CLAIMS OF OVER REACTION TO RESTRICT ACCESS TO KIGALI CONVENTION CENTRE FINALLY BEAR FRUIT
(Posted 31st October 2016)
When Rwanda hosted the African Union Summit in July this year, given the presence of many Heads of State and Government, was access to the new Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre in Kigali restricted, to ensure the safety of the visitors.
There were no complaints at the time, knowing that once the big event was over access would be restored.
That however was not to be until just today, three months later, making a decision taken over the weekend effective for traffic coming from the CBD, which was most inconvenienced trying to access the new hotel.
Subsequently did traffic into the hotel by city based patrons remain way behind projections for guests coming for drinks or a meal, raising doubts on the continued validity of blocking off road access through the KBC roundabout.
Attempts by the city’s mayor to explain away, or at times just remain silent over the massive inconvenience, were rubbished by Kigali residents and this correspondent, when recently staying at the hotel, also suffered the same inconvenience when trying to return the direct route after meetings in the city centre. It required a substantial detour from which only the cab driver benefitted.
Better late than never now comes to mind when the city mayoress finally yielded to increasing pressure to restore the direct link from the CBD.
‘That decision was unsustainable and we were just wondering what explanation we would be given next because there was no need after the AU Summit to continue those extra security arrangements. It was like they did not want us to visit there and so Kigali voted with their feet and spent their money somewhere else. Now perhaps easier access will mean more visitors during times when there are no big conferences. Then, for that purpose, one could understand added security layers but for non conference times, this was just over the top and a stubborn refusal to let people go there. When the new building opposite will be opening with all the offices and shops, imagine what its owners there would have to say if no clients could reach there conveniently. Sometimes these people just overreact‘ commented a regular Kigali bases source when passing the news of the reopened access due to start with the morning commuting hours.
In Kampala similar blockages to the Munyonyo Conference facility ahead of and during big conferences with Heads of State presence have in fact also led to the hotel losing ordinary business during non conference periods as patrons coming from the city are not willing to perhaps find such a meeting in progress with no public notice and be turned away or frisked several times for the benefit of having a drink at the lakeside or wanting to use the pool or health club facilities.
No one argues with the need for security but then, security needs to retain user friendliness and be broadly accepted by the population, before they, as said, vote with their feet and stay away from such magnificent hotels like the Radisson Blu in Kigali. Turning such sparkling new facilities into everyday fortresses will affect their revenues and only sour relations with those institutions seen as responsible for their loss of day to say business. No kudos for the Mayoress therefore for finally doing the right thing.