Kigali City officials to evict those on wetlands

Sunday January 21 2018

Shops and houses on the designated wetlands

Shops and houses on the designated wetlands will be evicted to restore the area. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NATION 

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Businesses and residents will suffer losses as Kigali City officials move to evict those on wetlands.

On January 4, a joint task force from the city officials and the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (Rema), started evicting all businesses in the designated areas. Residential premises will be evicted next.

The task force initially closed down numerous businesses including motor repair shops, heavy truck parking lots, restaurants and warehouses along a section of the road from Nyabarongo River to the Nyabugogo passenger transport hub.

“My Irish potatoes are going to waste because we are no longer allowed to open our shops,” said Pacifique Ugirumurengera, whose shop was in the designated area.

According to government officials, the affected residents settled in the wetlands illegally and are therefore not entitled to compensation.

Estimates put the number of businesses and residences likely to be affected at more than 2,000. The task force said it plans to restore the wetlands to their natural status.

“The two-phase exercise started with the businesses that illegally took up land belonging to the government and are operating on wetlands without an environment permit,” Engineer Collete Ruhamya told Rwanda Today.

According to Ms Ruhamya, the second phase of the exercise will start after the ongoing evaluation, which seeks to determine those who are entitled to compensation, is complete.

“The families that were resettled on wetland by the government qualify for compensation, the rest will not be compensated,” she said.

Kigali city officials say the exercise is expected to end in September.

“Businesses were given a seven-day notice to vacate but many requested for a 90-day extension because of the scale of their operations,” said Parfait Busabizwa, the vice mayor for Economic Development and Finance in Kigali.