Govít backtracks on wetland report
The government has withdrawn a report by Rwanda Environment Management Authority’s (REMA) on demarcated wetlands in the country, after district mayors opposed it, citing some omissions.
The 2007 Geographical Information System (GIS) study had drawn mixed reactions, especially in the Eastern Province, where mayors noted that some of the areas highlighted in the report, were actually not swamps.
Only people living in swampy areas are supposed to vacate.
Mayors raised the issues after they were instructed to speed up the process of relocating families that fell within the boundaries of the wetlands, as per the report.
Though Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of REMA, told this paper, that her department had finalized demarcating wetland boundaries in the country and people were supposed to be evacuated, Alvera Mukabaramba, the State Minister in charge of Social affairs in the Ministry of Local Government, said that a steering committee was established to assess the report.
“A committee bringing together ministries of local government, agriculture, natural resources, REMA, Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, was constituted to assess the report,” Mukabaramba said in an interview.
The team, she added, begun its activities in the Eastern Province and will continue to other provinces.
The REMA report, however, had also marked plain land and valleys as wetlands, meaning all people living in such areas were supposed to vacate.
According to a report from MINALOC, obtained by this newspaper, close to 6, 000 households, 2, 74 in Rusizi district alone, were supposed to be relocated in 17 districts. However, only 98 families were relocated.
“We cannot specify the final number now; the final report, indicating the number of families that will be relocated, and the amount of money that will be involved in the whole process, will be released next month,” she added.
Didier Sagashya, the RNRA deputy Director General in charge of land and mapping, said that evaluation in the Eastern Province was complete.
“Like it was highlighted by mayors, we found some omissions. Some places that had been highlighted as wetlands in the GIS report, were actually found to be hills and valleys,” Sagasya said in a telephone interview.
He outlined Gastibo, Kirehe, Nyagatare, Rwamagana and Kayonza as some of the districts that had been mostly affected by the previous report.
The committee will also measure the type of soil, potential flooding areas, risks and type of vegetation, to avoid disasters.
In Nyarugenge district, for example, about five petrol stations and Nyabugogo bus terminal, are supposed to relocate.
In Huye, water manufacturers, Huye Industries, World Food Programme main store and the Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST) might get affected, if the new study maintains the REMA report.
Aimee Bosenibamwe, the Governor of the Northern Province, however said that despite facing same challenges, they have so far relocated some of the families that fell in wetland boundaries.
Recently Kigali City announced that it will relocate over 5, 000 households located in wetlands and on hilltops in the next two years.
They include 2,700 households in Nyarugenge, 2,886 in Gasabo and 250 residents in Kicukiro districts.
The exercise will also see 98 industries also relocated to a new industrial area, the Rwanda Special Economic Zone (RSEZ), in Gasabo District.
Contact email: bosco.asiimwe[at]newtimes.co.rw