The factories which are now surrounded by bushes include Société Rwandaise des Allumettes (SORWAL) that manufactured matchboxes, GABI involved in food processing and New Rucep, a leather tanning factory.
SORWAL closed down in 2014 over huge debts in taxes owed to the Government.
The closure left 125 employees laid off. The firm was auctioned in 2018 and bought by a Malawian, Osman Rafik. At the time it was reported that the plant would provide jobs for 300 but has not yet resumed up to date.
GABI that sold processed foods especially beans closed in 2012 leaving 98 employees out of jobs. The number excludes casual workers.
It was said that the closure resulted from unpaid debts worth Rwf 500 million which Rwanda Correction Service (RCS) owed the company.
New Rucep also halted operations in 2017 and left 35 workers laid off. It was closed following surrounding residents’ complaints for bad smell from the plant’s waste water. The 250 permanent employees that lost jobs are joined by part time workers who also lost job opportunities.
Some of employees laid off explain that the plants’ closure left them jobless amidst unpaid salary arrears.
“We had spent six months without salary when the factory closed,” says one of former employees at SORWAL.
Emmanuel Ngarukiyimfura, a resident of Huye raises fears that bushes surrounding these firms might become a hiding spot for gangsters or wild animals and appeals on concerned officials to take action.
“The factories grounds have become bushes and arouse worries. There is need to renovate and reuse these structures lest they host wild animals and gangsters that might abuse residents,” he observes.
The Governor of Southern Province, Alice Kayitesi says they are seeking how to restore operations for halted projects that were beneficial to the community.
“The Province is concerned with the issue and has taken measures aimed at revamping the factories and other projects that benefited the community,” she explains.
Kayitesi assures that GABI will resume operations soon because it was discussed during cabinet meeting.
“In partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda Development Board and other top Government institutions have delegated a team to follow up GABI and devise ways of getting it up and running again,” she says.
“The issue was once discussed in cabinet meeting. We expect it to resume, process produce from residents and return jobs to laid-off workers,” she said.
The mayor of Huye district, Ange Sebutege says that he personally engages with the investor, Osman Rafik , the owner of SORWAL who promises to start operations soon.
Michel Campion, one of founders of New Rucep factory explains that they established ways of reducing bad smell from waste water but lacked funds to restore operations.
He however reveals that the machinery are still in good condition giving optimism to resume whenever funds are available.