Kigali mayor accuses firms of breach of billboards law, cartel practices

Some of the billboards that were pulled down in line with new regulations along the Airport road by the City of Kigali. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

The City of Kigali has accused advertising firms of non-compliance with the new billboards rules and cartel-like behaviour.

The Mayor of Kigali Monique Mukaruliza said that the city moved in to pull down billboards after advertisers failed to comply with the agreed terms.

She said the guidelines had been in place since 2012 and the firms had had enough time to sort out their issues.

“We gave them enough time. The last deadline given to them was for six months from December 2015. Even after that they still asked for more time. It reached a point and we realised that there was an issue of non-compliance,” Ms Mukaruliza said.

While crying foul at the City’s move, the advertisers lobby, Rwanda Outdoor Advertising Association (ROAA) on Tuesday called for an 18-month moratorium, saying they risk going bankrupt.

“This step taken by the City authorities to remove all billboards, fly in the face of efforts undertaken by ROAA to reduce billboard clutter in the city.

“Presently, 503 billboards have been removed by ROAA in cooperation with the City of Kigali technical team,” the lobby said in a statement.

But Ms Mukaruliza accused ROAA of cartel practices by only pulling down billboards belonging to non-members.

“We found out that seven of the committee members in the association were driving the industry. They indeed removed some billboards, but not their own.

“They only removed billboards of non-members of the association and left theirs. When the city found out, it moved to issue updated directives in October and we again asked them to comply, which they didn’t,” she said.

She said in October, the city tendered for outdoor advertising in accordance to the new procedures and urged the seven to submit their bids, but they did not.

The firms instead lodged a case against the City of Kigali seeking an injunction to block the tender process.

The court however ruled in favour of the city, to the chagrin of the affected companies, Ms Mukaruliza said.

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