Is Rema against investment?

There has been talk over the last couple of weeks about the Rwanda Environmental Management Agency Rema, slowing progress of investments in the country.

There has been talk over the last couple of weeks about the Rwanda Environmental Management Agency Rema, slowing progress of investments in the country.

Rema is accused of halting construction on many sites with serious development potential.   
Despite the fact that there is no smoke without fire, this smoke leaves a lot to be desired. An agency concerned with the conservation of the environment is prone to be at longer-heads with developers who want to make money by hook or crook.

At the centre of this controversy is a document known as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate. Many a people in Rwanda develop land before doing an EIA study, yet this is the major planning tool that is a benchmark in the planning stage.

The process EIA begins when the project developer writes an application to Rema to approve development of that land in question. An EIA report prepared with the help of terms of references is done by either Rema or the developer if the latter has the resources to hire EIA experts.

Rema makes a review to see whether the analysis was exhaustively done by screening the report. This is to check whether the land should undergo an EIA assessment.

Investment impacts are usually positive or negative. Of course Rema is not supposed to care about the positive side of investment, but rather the negative part of it.

Once the project is faulty, mitigation measures follow after identifying the extent and magnitude of the impact the project has. Mitigation is aimed at reducing the negative impact of the project. Its sole purpose is to help the developer check certain environmental hazards, such that his land passes the test.

Once a developer is denied the opportunity to develop the land, he has a choice of refining the area in question such that it undergoes another EIA review. However there is an option writing a complaint to the minister in charge of environment.

Accepting the EIA review, gives the developer a certificate of a life time-the EIA certificate. Any environmental agency will hardly give you their time when these simple environmental friendly procedures are neglected.

And for the sake of our environment, getting an EIA should not be a walk in the park. Countries like China with a black shade over their sky know what it takes to invest in the environment despite their vast industrial development.
Environmental agencies are also protected by laws which help them in their day to day activities.

Rwanda Environmental Law, Article 87 of 04/2005 of 8/4/2005, states clearly that, no building should be constructed in a wetland. Article 67 stresses the fact that every project should do an EIA. 

This therefore shows blaming Rema is unfair; in fact there is a rat in the nest- planning. A city of Kigali’s caliber lacks a city master plan thus people are prone to build anywhere they find land.

Location planning, sometimes known as zoning should be taken up by the city council, Rema on the other hand should get the population a wetland master plan that indicates which wetlands are to be protected from activities and those that the population will use for agriculture.

This will make choosing of sites by interested parties easy and thus less work to the city council and Rema.

There is also lack of coordination among institutions that handle investors. When the country’s institution responsible for promoting investment gets an investor, it should work hand in hand with Rema such that this investor gets land that suites his activities and the surrounding.

If we neglect work done to conserve and protect our environment, we shall trap ourselves and the generations to come in an explosive situation as dangerous as a minefield- one false step and we are doomed. Rema should not let grass grow under its feet.

Environmental skeptics should reconsider and let Rema do what they are supposed to do, the Noble Peace Prize might come to this land of a thousand hills.



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