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Chanika Traders, Authorities Feud Over Plan to Phase Out Wooden Kiosks

In January 2018, fire broke out at Chanika border reducing several stalls to ashes. In March 2018, fire broke out from one of the wooden kiosks before it spread and destroyed 25 others.
Some of the wooden kiosks that were gutted by fire in March 2018

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Tension is mounting between traders at Chanika border town and Chahi Sub county authorities in Kisoro district over a proposal to phase out wooden kiosks. The authorities want to phase out the wooden kiosks and replace them with metallic ones as one of the measures to reduce fire outbreaks at the border town.

In January 2018, fire broke out at Chanika border reducing several stalls to ashes. In March 2018, fire broke out from one of the wooden kiosks before it spread and destroyed 25 others. Erasmus Sanyu, the Chahi Sub County LC III Chairperson says following the fire outbreaks as local leaders they held a meeting and resolve that the only measure to reduce similar problems is to phase out wooden kiosks and replace them with metallic and permanent ones.

Sanyu also says as leaders they held several meetings with traders and advised them to demolish the wooden kiosks. According to Sanyu, although a few traders have responded to the directive many are still defiant. Andrew Niyonzima, one of the traders at Chanika border, says the proposal to phase out wooden kiosks is unfair since it requires them to invest more money to construct new kiosks.

Ronald Nzabonimpa, another trader says that erecting metallic kiosks is very expensive compared to wooden ones where they only use timber offcuts and nails. But Sanyu says council will convene and resolve on the matter, saying once the resolution is passed all wooden kiosks will be demolished by force.

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Edward Uzabakiriho, the Butare parish councilor, says supports the plan to phase out wooden kiosks, saying that it is one of the major fire safety measures.

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