Kigali residents have singled out respect to property rights, housing and transport-related hurdles as top-priority the new municipal authorities need to address with urgency.
The issues, most of which have been pending for a long time, topped the list of demands presented to the new city Mayor Pudence Rubingisa.
Mr Rubingisa took over the recently restructured office where he is required to address complaints, which were not resolved by his predecessors and districts authorities.
A newly enacted law governing the city of Kigali also indicates that his office will take over powers of the districts including on-going projects and planned projects.
He has been holding meeting and field visits with officials in Gasabo and Nyarugenge, and was expected in Kicukiro last week.
Specifically, the new city Mayor last week led a team to the scene where more than 1,623 landowners embroiled in the controversial Bannyahe expropriation exercise are adamant to move, citing injustice in the process of relocation.
“It was just a fact finding visit during which he did not give his guidance on the issue. As the new city mayor and a team that accompanied they briefly visited the site and talked with a few people he randomly met, so we expect to hear from him later,” said Liliane Uwamahoro, executive secretary of Nyarutarama cell.
The affected families were supposed to vacate to give way for high-end housing investment project but the relocation stalled after landowners and the district differed over compensation terms.
Rights lobbies argue that the impasse constitutes one of the biggest issues the mayor need to solve urgently, and the way it ends signals the easy or tough task ahead with regard to expediting eradication of similar slums and informal settlements in more than 10 earmarked sites of the city.
“I believe that by only improving planning in the expropriation process, many of the property issues would be effectively addressed. The law on expropriation is clear about what needs to be done, the compensation payment timelines and market value, but it seems the question lies in the implementation. It is city authorities who need to change to ensure rights of property owners are protected,” said Andrews Kananga, head of legal aid forum, a non-governmental organisation that had in the past raised a red flag over injustices in expropriation projects as part of their advocacy.
Tussles over expropriation attracted attention under the tenure the several past city mayor tenures, and a number of them like the Bannyahe case remain unresolved.
Rwanda Today recently reported the plight of tens of families are still stuck in the municipal dumpsite buffer in Nduba waiting compensation for their properties valued six years ago.
Besides properties, many eyes are on the new city mayor’s next move in addressing citizens’ dissatisfactions with transport services, water access problems and the housing crisis in the city.
In Mr Rubingisa’s briefing to journalists, he indicated that fixing problems in the public transport system, sustaining hygiene and cleanness will make his priority list.