Kigali City is carrying out fresh demarcations of households in disaster-prone areas, even as authorities try to come up with ways of dealing with homeowners who are resisting moving out despite recurrent natural disasters.
The exercise is focusing on houses built on the slopes of hills like Mount Kigali in Nyarugenge District, Jali in Gasabo and Rebero in Kicukiro. Thousands of families resisted orders to move out, demanding compensation.
When City authorities first demarcated properties in disaster-prone areas followed by an order to relocate in 2016, local officials said only vulnerable families would get accommodation in model villages while the rest were required to find somewhere else to live.
This time, Kigali City officials were tight-lipped about the likely approach to be used in regard with the fresh exercise jointly carried out with the Ministry of Local Government, Rwanda Housing Authority and the security organs.
However, Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Ladislas Ngendahimana told Rwanda Today there was a need for new data to guide planning, after previous exercises were found to be incomplete and in some instances outdated.
“Unlike previous assessments, we are putting permanent demarcations and the exercise should also give us the actual cost of properties in high-risk zones,” said Mr Ngendahimana.
He added that the government wants to get the residents out of the high-risk areas for their own safety.
“The issue of compensation is not relevant because what is crucial is that these residents are on land that puts their lives at risk,” said Mr Ngendahimana.
The past three weeks have seen thousands of properties and land demarcated, re-igniting uncertainty among occupants who are largely low-income earners.
“No one is giving us information about the purpose of the on-going demarcation of our land and houses,” said a 40-year old mother of five residing in Kivugiza Cell, Nyamirambo Sector.
The number of people to be affected is yet to be known but Kigali City had earlier estimated that over 5,000ha of built up areas were prone to disasters.
City officials are weighing relocating homeowners from high-risk areas and having those in informal settlements abide by the requirement in its master plan.
This move come with a huge cost of expropriation. Officials have been considering giving alternative houses instead of monetary compensation.
Initial plans in the Nyarugenge District master plan for hilly areas like Mount Kigali and Jali with high density housing suggested the areas would be redeveloped into well planned housing communities instead of relocating the existing houses.
The options included rezoning the areas into new medium to high-density medium rise residential areas.