A Kigali Entertainment Zone is an idea that I could raise a glass to

Kimihurura is one of the quietest neighborhoods in Kigali right? Wrong. Despite what a real estate person will tell you, Kimihurura isnt the kind of place to stay in if you want a good night’s sleep, every day of the week. Between the construction workers making a racket every morning right outside my door, the noisy school kids, who think it’s perfectly normal to scream like banshees as they go to school, and the Topsec security guards, who chant their way through their early morning drills, I haven’t had a quiet morning for years. But I made peace with the entire morning racket because it worked as a great alarm system; I’m always awake and out of bed before seven. What I’m finding hard to stand is the evening festivities that have become part and parcel of my life here.

From Thursday to Sunday, booming music emanates from a rather shady looking drinking hole called ‘Agape Bar’. It’s all well and good when I’m out of the house and out on the town, but it gets rather frustrating when I’ve decided to have an early night. Especially on Sunday when I have to get ready for the coming week. I’ve tried to talk to the bar’s owner but to no avail and I’m trying not to blow my top, march into it and forcibly shut off the racket. And barring that, call the Police hotline and report a serious case of noise pollution.

I bet that the people who live close to the Papyrus Bar and Restaurant, which was closed a few months ago by the Gasabo District personnel, aren’t sad to see the back of it. I was often there on weekends and I always felt sorry for the people living close by. Cars honked incessantly, bar fights spilling out into the street were common and the music being played was deafening. So, despite the uproar from some people, I totally understood the issues at hand. Same goes for another popular Kimihurura hangout, Sundowner Bar and Grill. It’s located smack in the middle of the residential area and on Friday frustrated residents, obviously on their last tether, called in the National Police who then immediately shut down the music. The clients were unhappy, the owners were unhappy and truth be told, the only happy people were those already in their beds.

Gasabo District officials have been closing all sorts of establishments since the turn of the year and no one’s really that happy. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. In the Kigali Master Plan, there is a diplomatic quarter, a Central Business District, Hotel Central and open spaces. I suggest that the City Council includes a ‘Bar and Nightclub Central’.

In many cities around the world, certain areas are designated as ‘entertainment zones’. For example, a certain number of streets are full of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and strip clubs. While I don’t think that we will see strip clubs any time soon, I think that the idea of a centralized entertainment zone is a great idea. Police will find it a lot easier to patrol it and prevent crime (just imagine, instead of putting up road blocks all over town, traffic police could simply put one right at the furthest ends of the zone; it would be a great deterrence to drunk driving).  It would be better for the bar owners, who would see an increase in customers because people could bar hop easily. And people like me, living in the residential areas can enjoy their peace and have a restful night’s sleep.

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