Don’t push the poor out of Kigali- city planners urge

Tuesday October 2 2018


Policymakers are urging Kigali City officials to factor low-income earners in the revision of the City’s master plan. PHOTO: FILE 

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Architects and urban planners have warned that the ongoing revision of the Kigali City master plan not to alienate low-income earning residents as it will create room for insecurities in the future.

With examples like New York, Paris, New Delhi and or Nairobi, experts say, residents with low income earnings have often resolved to criminal acts like robbery, drug abuse and killings.

While speaking to Rwanda Today, Jean Marc Rosignol an expert in urban planning called on city planners to redesign a citizen-centred master plan.

“In some of these western countries, mistakes were made in relocating low income earners outside the cities and now they are facing major problems with security and drug issues.

“I think a city with mixed social categories is very important, it provides no room for segregation. People work hard to match the lives of other higher social categories and allow those on low incomes not to spend a lot in transport,” he said.

Mr Rosignol, who is a licenced architect and a member of the association of architects in the country, added that they are compiling a number of inputs which they will table before the city of Kigali as proposals to the ongoing revision.

Last week, the City of Kigali started an awareness campaign and opened several platforms to allow members of the public to submit opinions on how the city master plan should be redesigned.

Under the Rwf6.7 billion earmarked budget by the city of Kigali in the current fiscal year for the infrastructure development section, Rwanda Today understands that part of the money will finance the review of the master plan, which is expected to be complete in April next year.

According to Fred Mugisha, the city engineer and director of urban planning, the rationale behind the revision was mostly aimed to cope up with latest developments in terms of economic progress and is expected to consider improvements in different social class categories.

“We are now assessing the social economic status of the population, before deciding on a direction for the city. We want to know the exact social categories of the people in Kigali and how we can have inclusion zoning.

“From the clusters of social economic status, we are going to understand the income segments of the people, so that we make decisions based on them. We should also be able to project the incomes in the next 50 years,” said Mr Mugisha.

According to him, the upcoming master plan is and should reflect the current realities and also identify challenges identified in the earlier master plan.

“We are requesting citizens to tell us what they need to stay in Kigali without being relocated; the opinion polls are complementing ongoing implementation of different policies including affordable housing strategies,” he added.

The revision of the master plan, which comes to replace the 2013 version, has come when a section of people mostly low income earners are at loggerheads with the city over issues relating to expropriation and compensation for land.

Examples include residents of ‘Bannyahe’ a slum suburb in Gasabo district in Remera sector, which is believed to be a residential area for low income earners who work in the neighbouring affluent areas of the city like Nyaruitarama and Gaculiro.

However, Mr Mugisha said the master plan is not related to expropriation or compensation of land, adding that such matters should be catered for by specific policies.

“Already, we have the expropriation law, if there is any gap in the law, citizens should raise their opinions on how it should be improved especially on compensation if they think it is not fair,” he said.

Mr Mugisha added that some properties will be affected by the planning, including new road constructions or other infrastructural projects either through strategic acquisition using the existing legal framework or through other recommendations.