Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is nestled among hills and is hailed among the cleanest urban centres in Africa.
Like most cities on the continent, Kigali which has a population of about 1.1 million people, is a hive of activity and street vendors go on with their daily bustle as they try to eke out a living by selling affordable wares.
But a campaign by authorities to clear the vendors from the capital is threatening the livelihoods of the sellers.
I can no longer make a living doing this job, then it will be the end of my family. I left the village because there was nothing to do, and I am not going to become a thief so that I can earn a living.
“I can no longer make a living doing this job, then it will be the end of my family. I left the village because there was nothing to do, and I am not going to become a thief so that I can earn a living,” said Amiable Gahamanyi, a vendor.
Local authorities say they are encouraging the vendors to form registered co-operatives or find formal work in a bid to raise taxes and make the city tidier.
The vendors often endure harassment from police but they seem undeterred and continue to support the informal sector of the economy in a country where the income per capita is estimated at $730 per year.
In September, Human Rights Watch said the authorities beat and detained some of the street vendors and other “undesirables” such as prostitutes and beggars. However, officials denied the charges.
Last week, Kigali’s mayor Monique Mukaruliza told a news conference that Kigali’s target is to be a clean city but the vendors are an impediment to the cleanliness.