Council eyes undeveloped urban land

Saturday November 30 2019

According to the Kigali City Council officials,

According to the Kigali City Council officials, some undeveloped plots are compromising municipality hygiene and were a concern for neighbourhood security. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Kigali residents whose property is deemed to be idle are in a dilemma amid difficulty to secure funds to develop the plots before City authorities move to seize them over failure to develop these parcels of land.

Kigali City Council recently moved to implement a 2013 legislation giving it the right to confiscate land in areas with approved detailed physical plans, but remain unexploited for three consecutive years.

City authorities have released seizure notices.

Some of those affected may have bought the land for speculative purposes or with intent to build homes but have not done so, as well as those with unfinished building structures.

Property owners who talked to Rwanda Today indicate that only those who can quickly secure money to build within the shortest time possible can be sure of security of tenure.

Others risk losing out unless they find interested buyersready to build at the pace required by the authorities.

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Landowners in Rusororo and Kiyovu, in Gasabo and Nyarugenge District respectively, told this newspaper that they were compelled to seek building permits and start developing within weeks, failure to which their land would be seized by the government.

Those contacted by Rwanda Today did not want to comment on the city’s resolve but attributed non-compliance to lack of financing due to high interests rates on loans.

Rusororo grass roots leader Valens Ntaganira, who is part of the team enforcing the city directive, said 15 plot owners had since started construction of an estimated 500 idle plots and more than 85 unfinished structures in the area.

“Selling is an option for many who had no money to start developing their plots. There are a few who requested for some time to negotiate loans with their banks, but they have to prove that they have done something within the shortest time possible,” he said.

Details of the Gasabo District Mayor Stephen Rwamurangwa meeting with local officials in Rusororo on November 19 indicate that residents ought to apply for building permits within the shortest time possible, so that they can embark on building within at least two weeks.

The meeting also resolved to notify landowners who will be unable to commence construction within the stipulated time that the “law will be enforced so that the land can be allocated to people who can make it productive as per the provisions of the master plan.”

Officials also resolved that undeveloped plots compromise the municipality’s hygiene and were a concern for neighbourhood security.

It is not clear yet when the city will declare the plots confiscated and the exact number of undeveloped properties across all urban centres.

Our request for information sent to the city council one week ago has not been responded to.

City officials earlier indicated that over 50 undeveloped plots were targeted in the initial phase, mostly along the city's main corridors.

The city’s abrupt move to enforce legislation enacted six years ago has seen opinions divided among those that bought land hoping to mobilise resources and develop them at a later stage.

Annie Kairaba, the Director of Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development, a local organisation working on land and property rights issues argues that insomuch as the market for and value of land has been on the rise, scarce financial resources and a general lack of information among the population on the provisions of land law remain a hindrance to compliance.

“The problem is the lack of sufficient information, yet it could serve as a mechanism to reduce misinterpretation, speculation, and threat on property tenure security,” she said.

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