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Bujumbura: vendors suspend activities due to stand rent increase.

On Monday, July 31, 2023, almost all shopping halls were closed following an increase in stand rent at Ruvumera market located in Buyenzi zone, western Bujumbura city. Prices of different products and services keep skyrocketing amid hyperinflation in Burundi.

On Monday, July 31, 2023, almost all shopping halls were closed following an increase in stand rent at Ruvumera market located in Buyenzi zone, western Bujumbura city. Prices of different products and services keep skyrocketing amid hyperinflation in Burundi.

Customers were disappointed as they realized that all stands and shops at the Ruvumera market were closed since the morning.  Only fruit sellers were serving clients for fear that their fruits rot.

According to some tradespeople, rent has been inflated by the Burundi revenue authority (OBR) in collaboration with the Bujumbura Mayorship.

“We were used to paying BIF 14,000 a month for each stand or shop inside the market, but now we are required to pay up to BIF 450,0000. For those whose places are outside the market, they have to pay BIF 600.000 a month. It is really frustrating and awkward,” said a vendor.

Egide Ndereyimana, a tradesperson met at Ruvumera market, called for the government to decrease the rent.

Last week, OBR introduced new stand/shop rent in public markets, which for some markets has soared up to 300 %.

In a press briefing held on the same day, The Minister of Home affairs, Community development and Security, Martin Niteretse, said that the rent should be reviewed to bring back activities to normal situation in markets.

However, he deplored that some various shopping halls had been occupied by people who are not sellers, among them authorities in the administration.

“They would book many shops and stands so as to rent them out to vendors later. It was frustrating that local leaders had put their interests ahead of helping citizens,” he said.

At Ruvumera market, he added, a stand or shop rent worth BIF 100,000 or BIF 110,000 would go up to BIF 600,000.

Martin Niteretse urged that no one is allowed to own more than one stand/shop in a public market.

We are not ready to resume activities.

Vendors operating in Ruvumera market denounce the government’s statements that they were accustomed to paying such amount of money.

According to them, a group of people might have orchestrated false statements, which were considered by the government to make such a decision.

“The decision was promptly made without involving sellers’’, said a vendor

Some vendors said they may not resume their activities unless the government listen to their concerns.

Hyperinflation within a short period

On Monday, August 1, 2023, the largest brewer and soft beverage company in Burundi (Brarudi) announced an increase in prices for its beverages. A sum of BIF 500 has been added on the prices of both its alcoholic drinks and lemonades.

Earlier, on Thursday July 21, the Burundi’s only sugar manufacturing plant (SOSUMO) fixed new prices of sugar. A kg of sugar costs BIF 3,300 as the price was, before then, BIF 2,500. Hence, an increase rate of 32 %.

Sugar has been a scarce in almost the whole country. In Kirundo province in the north of Burundi, there has been lack of sugar for about a month. Consumers complain that the product is sold through smuggling ways at almost BIF 8,000 a kg.

Besides, the Burundi cement company (BUCECO) has also increased cement prices. A 50-kg cement package R32.5 currently costs BIF 38,000 instead of BIF 28,500. Thus, an increase rate of 33 %. A cement package R 42.5 has inflated from BIF 34,000 to BIF 48,000.

For Bujumbura city residents, it is not understandable that prices skyrocket for cement made in Burundi. Same complaints with Cibitoke residents who live near the cement company’s headquarters.

Last week, the government of Burundi raised fuel prices and the cost of different documents required by the government.

Inflation at 27,1 %, a burden for ordinary citizens

“When the government seeks to increase prices, there should be conducted a thorough research to examine investment and income of ordinary businesses,” said Faustin Ndikumana, economic expert and current president of PARCEM, a local NGO involved in changing people’s mindset.

For him, every process should be driven clearly and slowly to avoid aftermaths over the citizens’ living conditions: “If there is poverty across the country, the government should understand that citizens’ needs are priority.”

According to Faustin Ndikumana, the government should not keep on increasing taxes and prices: “When things amount, an ordinary citizen suffers.”

According to Burundi central bank (BRB), the inflation rate was at 27.1 % as of June 2023.

Moïse Ndayiragije
Moïse Ndayiragije
Moise Ndayiragije, journalist, Visual presenter, Environmental Advocate. He has been covering social ground based stories. He stretches from climate change to Biodiversity loss and social linkages. He covers news about Burundi, Great Lakes, and Africa.
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