Residents of Nyagatare District want the government to secure land for public cemeteries at the sector level, as it will save them from travelling long distances to district cemeteries to bury their loved ones.
A new law banned burials in family land. At the district cemetery, Rwanda Today found that it is about to be full and the remaining land can only be occupied by about 100 graves.
Some families are unable to pay to transport the body to the district cemetery, which forces some to carry them on bicycles.
James Mujuni, a resident of Nyagatare, said his nephew recently died and his body had to be car- ried on a motorcycle because they couldn’t bury him at home. “We need at least one cemetery per sector,” said Mr Mujuni.
New law In a law adopted in 2012, cremation was proposed as one way of reducing pressure on increas- ingly scarce land in the country.
However the practice was made optional and more investments are needed. With provisions in the new law governing the organisation and operation of cemeteries in the country, at least every sector is supposed to have a public cemetery.
Francis Kamugisha, a resident from Nyarutovu sector said “We used to bury our people on our farms or near our homes, but today we’re not allowed by law and yet it is very costly to bury at the district cemetery.”
The price ranges from Rwf50,000 to Rwf100,000, which residents say is very high. Rurangwa Steven, the vice mayor in charge of economic development in Nyagatare District told Rwanda Today that he was aware of the matter but they were yet to get alternative land.
“Our plans aren’t actually having cemeteries at the District level but rather to start at the cell level,” said Mr Rurangwa, adding that most land owners are unwilling to sell their land when they learn it will be turned into a cemetery.