Over 800 residents of Kangondo and Kibiraro in Gasabo District are resisting efforts by government to relocate them to Busanza, saying they have not been compensated adequately.
The issue of moving 1,486 families from this area has been a thorn in the flesh of municipality authorities dating back to 2017.
Residents say the government declined to compensate them in hard cash, instead opting to give them houses in the newly constructed condominium estate in Busanza. Government had earlier identified an investor put up modern apartments and other recreational amenities in the place, as confi rmed by Kigali Mayor Pudence Rubingisa.
The investor in collaboration with the City of Kigali did their part and constructed the condominiums in Busanza ready to relocate Kangondo and Kibiraro residents.
So far, 614 families have shi ed to Busanza, but more than 800 others stood their ground until the are adequately compensated.
“We have never been against leaving this place but not under those unjust terms. My small property is all I have, and I am not moving anywhere” said an irate resident of Kangondo.
Emmanuel Simoni, another resident, said the problem is that the authorities went against the original resolutions when they first engaged the residents about expropriating the land.
“The original resolutions we had with government were to compensate property owners that preferred money and those who wanted houses as supported by the expropriation law, but along the way they decided to compensate everyone in the form of houses on condominium flats,” said Simoni.
The expropriation law of 2018 stipulates that the one being expropriated can be compensated in form of an amount of money agreed by both parties or any other mutually agreed form of compensation, and that this compensation has to first be finalised before expropriation.
The residents accuse government of unfairly imposing upon them compensation in the form of ready-made houses, and opted to sue.
“We hear they are going to use heavy equipment to evict us by use of force, but I am ready to defend my property,” said another resident.
Explaining the decision to opt for housing as compensation, Umuhirwa Solange, the Chief Urban Planner at the City of Kigali, said most of the residents settled there after being expropriated from Kimicanga and Kimihurura slums.
“After that, they went and created another slum and we fear the same would happen if we gave them money and the cycle repeated.” She said the compensation was also informed by valuation of their properties.
“Of the 1,486 families, 1,140 had their properties valued below Rwf10 million, and that of up to 330 families valued below 3 million. There is no place in this a city that a person can get decent housing for that sum.”
Ms Umuhirwa added that 294 families do not have any land titles, but bought small houses annexed on properties of those that have titles, and that although these were not entitled to compensation they were also accounted for and allocated houses in Busanza.
Also, 497 families own very tiny pieces of land below 100 square meters. The residents dispute the assertion and claim that their properties were grossly undervalued. Some of those that sued will have their court cases read on the 29th of this month.
Government deputy spokesperson, Alain Mukurarinda says that, even those who are given the houses in Busanza don’t have full ownership of the houses yet and clarified that they will only attain full ownership after five years.