Kigali authorities at a crossroads over demand for compensation

Monday November 29 2021
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Residents carrying their belongings after being evicted from their houses located in one of the wetlands in Kigali in 2019. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA


Kigali City is facing a huge compensation bill for owners of some of 7,222 structures that were wrongly classified for being in wetland buffers.

City authorities who carried out the evictions in December 2019, had initially rejected compensation claims from homeowners in areas such as Rukiri, Nyabisindu, Giticyinyoni, Karuruma, arguing that the structures were illegal.

In addition, city authorities said the evictions were for the safety of the affected families.

It has emerged, however, that some of the structures that were demolished neither built on wetlands nor buffer zoness.

Affected property owners said they either put up or acquired property in line with stipulated legal procedures City master plans

“The problem emerged when they extended the boundaries of wetlands to where our properties are located and ignored that we built or acquired them at a time when the law and the masterplan considered the area habitable," said a property owner in Kiruhura.


“I personally spent 10 years paying tax on the land and homes that were later destroyed without compensation. We still insist that it is injustice," he added.

Many property owners in Rukera filed their complaints with Kigali City Council, but their demands for compensation have not borne fruits to date.

The City Advisory Council, which examined the complaints, resolved that no decision could be reached until a national task force looks into the problem on a wide scale gives guidance.

A special committee instituted by the municipality officials to examine the complaints show that while properties were destroyed on more than 730 square kilometres across the City districts namely Gasabo, Nyarugenge and Kicukiro, only 87.4 square kilometres fall under the boundaries of wetlands and the mandatory 20-metre buffer zone.

In total, 2,770 structures were demolished of which more than 1,837 are without building permits while only 933 were found to have required building permits.

“The City technical team is working with the national taskforce to examine the issue and will guide us on the way forward,” said Kayihura Muganga Didas, Kigali City Advisory Council Chairperson told Rwanda Today.