The City of Kigali is working on a plan to start the long-awaited rehabilitation of the former Gikondo Industrial Park even as budget constraints continue to derail the relocation exercise for industrial businesses still operating in the area.
The valley, which is designated as a wetland, was expected to be restored to its ecological status as soon as the relocation exercise, which started in 2013, is complete.
However, while 2016 was the final deadline set for the complete relocation of Gikondo industries to the new Kigali Special Economic Zone, a bulk of factories and industrial businesses are yet to vacate.
Meanwhile, Kigali City authorities said they will soon start turning the valley into a recreation site as part of the rehabilitation process as the remaining businesses plan to move.
“We shall do greening work on two hectares this year, and proceed with two hectares next year as we wait for all the industries to move,” said Parfait Busabizwa, Kigali City Vice Mayor for Economic Affairs.
According to trade and industry officials, so far, only nine heavy industries have fully moved from Gikondo to the Kigali Special Economic Zone. Another five industries are expected to follow when their premises are complete.
The factories include Tolirwa, Ameki Color, Tabarwanda, Rwanda Trading Company and Coffee Business Centre.
There are also a number of light factories and around 30 industries like garages and warehouses whose relocation timelines remain unclear.
The relocation exercise was expected to be complete by the end of last year to pave the way for rehabilitation activities.
While the government met the cost of putting up new facilities for heavy and light industries only, the other businesses such as garages and warehouses accepted to relocate on condition that they would also get compensated.
Rwanda Today understands that disagreements between the government and industries about compensation remains a contentious issue. And it is likely to further derail the relocation exercise, thereby exposing the area to further degradation.
There are laws that prohibit building on wetlands or any other activity that could damage the ecosystem of that place. Having industrial businesses in Gikondo not only created an unsuitable working environment but also undermined the wetland.
But Mr Busabizwa said city officials were planning to meet with Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs Ministry officials to agree on when the remaining businesses can move to pave the way for the rehabilitation.
He said Rwf100 million was set aside this year for greening the area as well as putting up recreational facilities including artificial lakes.
Minister Francois Kanimba told Rwanda Today that the disagreements with industry owners were sorted out, and only the budget deficit was to blame for the delay as government is yet to raise the sum needed to compensate the businesses.
He said the government would need approximately Rwf25 billion as per the latest valuation estimates.
“Since we are not capable of paying the businesses the entire sum, we are trying to convince them to accept to be compensated in installments. That way, each business will be owed a debt by the government, which will be paid within the agreed timelines,” said Mr Kanimba, adding that “It is an on-going discussion.”
The Gikondo Industrial Park relocation exercise is estimated to have cost the government around Rwf12 billion as at last year.
The relocation of industries to specially designated areas is part of the government’s efforts to help existing industries operate in a conducive environment.