EDITORIAL: Expropriation or not, be humane, fair to citizens

Monday September 7 2020

land

The current increasing cases of insufficient and delayed compensation mean that many vulnerable households risk losing sources of livelihood. PHOTO ~ FILE 

RWANDA TODAY
By RWANDA TODAY
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During the expansion of roads in Muhanga district — one of 13 districts surveyed — Daniel Tuyisenge, a resident of Muhanga town claims his property was undervalued and later partly demolished without compensation.

“My commercial house with three quarters that should now be worth up to Rwf7 million was valued at Rwf1.9 million — not even at half the original Rwf4.5 million price I paid for it three years ago. I refused to sign for that money but they eventually demolished part of it,” Tuyisenge told Rwanda Today.

“At the district office, they called us and told us our houses had to be cleared for the road construction and showed us how much our houses worth. After seeing how minimal my house has been valued I refused to sign,” he added.

Similar to Tuyisenge's case, Edithe Mukeshabera, also a resident of Kamugina village in Muhanga district, told Rwanda Today that the construction works on the roads have left her house in dire condition.

The cases reported above are not isolated. They are shared by many Rwandans who are increasingly getting frustrated with the process of expropriation which they find unfair.

In this week’s edition on page 6, we shared details of a new report which highlights the challenges in the process of expropriation.

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While on paper the law is clear on procedures and how long it should take before one receives compensation, in practice the process is not as straight forward. As such, many are getting frustrated and citing violation of their right to own property.

Yet Rwanda’s current rapid urbanisation means that there will be more cases of expropriation for public infrastructure.

The current increasing cases of insufficient and delayed compensation mean that many vulnerable households risk losing sources of livelihood.

More effort is needed to ensure that landowners are treated fairly and their interests not ignored.

While currently most landowners understand and appreciate the need to give their land for public works, failure to address their concerns might undermine plans to expropriate citizens 's land for large infrastructure projects or strategic investments which are inevitable in future.

There is a need to improve the process of expropriation to foster confidence among citizens and mitigate negative consequences for those expropriated.

Perhaps more importantly, the government must ensure that there is full compliance of the law and that it is leading the process of compliance to encourage citizens to support the process of expropriation.

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