Environmental protection is non-negotiable


Refer to the story, ‘Kwa Didi: Closure of Kicukiro abattoir leaves bitter taste for many’ (The New Times, November 30).

I see already a serious overlap of duties that presents a loophole for businesses that are faced with closures. First, the City of Kigali has a directorate for public health and environment while there is also Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and both organs appear to have authority to enforce closures due to environmental concerns.

However, REMA, given its authority status, means it can supersede (and perhaps rightly so) all other decisions (and has final authority) concerning the environment in the country. As for the proprietor insisting the area is not a wetland, Wetlands are gazetted by REMA and unless he has proof from REMA it’s not a wetland, then he cannot claim the area is not a wetland as its REMA’s job to do so. As for the environmental impact assessment (also required by REMA), one would need details on the document to make an informed judgment.

As for the recent directive to move businesses operating from wetlands, I believe this is a clear and foregone conclusion. Kigali sits on top of critical water tables and, for the public good of all, we need to ensure our wetlands are adequately protected. Therefore, asking time for extending the closure is self defeatist as one wonders what exactly does the public gain from extended pollution of wetlands. Authorities need to put their foot down and move those polluting our waters and our future and that of our children. Someone wisely said ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we have borrowed it from our children.’