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Rwanda's cleaning services sector blossoming
Rwanda's cleaning services sector is steadily improving and is slowly making its mark on the economy - and to ensure that it provides better services and becomes more professional, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority has brought in guidelines and in some cases regulations, reports Donah Mbabazi in The New Times.
Some regulations were put in place two years ago to guide the sector, create some order and enable the quality of the service provided by the operators to be monitored, create order in the sector.
Engineer Alfred Byigero, who is responsible for energy, water and sanitation, says they have adopted a 'one operator per sector' model, mainly in regard to the collection and transportation of solid waste.
"The regulations have brought some order in the sector and provide room for improving service delivery," he says. "They have also helped us solve challenges, like discrimination among bidders, so that only qualified operators get jobs, which has created a conducive environment for competition.
"By complying with the regulations, operators are confident about their performance as far as service delivery is concerned, and clients get good service."
He says the sector has been able to achieve a lot because stakeholders are involved in the drafting of industry regulations, which increases stakeholder ownership and thus improves compliance.
On the issue of the safety of the cleaners, he says that one of the regulations covers the protection of workers. "It is one of the key items that are checked during regular audits and inspections, where penalties are meted out to those who do not comply," he reveals.
"There is, however, a need to recognise that the cleaning services industry is still evolving from an informal sector to a formal and professional one."
He also notes that most of the companies are still owned by people who lack the requisite technical and managerial expertise.
"We have tried to counter this by conducting regular sensitisation and training programmes for sector players to ensure they offer services that meet standards and comply with regulatory provisions," he adds.
He says that since all stakeholders are involved in the drafting of laws and guidelines that govern the industry, cleaning companies appreciate them, and ensure that they follow the guidelines with a view to improving and developing.
Godfrey Rutagengwa, the managing director of Eco General Services, a cleaning services firm, says the regulations have helped streamline the sector "that was previously not regulated. "Therefore, the cleaning services sector can only do better as time goes by.
"Though we had no major issues before RURA came in to provide the necessary leadership, the guidance is changing the industry for the better."
He adds that the cleaners are provided with equipment such as gloves, masks, gumboots and uniforms to for use while on duty.
The president of KG Harvest Cleaning Company, Celestin Kabagema, says the guidelines from RURA are compelling cleaning companies to provide better services and improve customer service - especially when it comes to honouring the terms and conditions of their contracts.
"The law has helped us delivery better services... Cleaning companies, especially those involved in garbage collection, need to insure their workers and also provide them with protective gear," he says.
"For us we mostly operate in hospitals, so it is a condition we have to meet to get a contract. Our employees must also be immunised against diseases like hepatitis and Tetanus."
He says, however, that RURA should involve the contractors more when it comes to decision-making - especially on issues that affect their operations.
"We are the experts in the cleaning services industry; we know what is on the ground, so they need to consult us whenever they want to amend or change the legal framework or guidelines so that we give them ideas which can help us all."
"Things concerning hygiene and sanitation change all the time, so as people who are on the ground we know the problems that we face."
5th February 2015