The Mayor City Council of Kigali Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira has said that cases of public officials being hounded out of office for a variety of reasons,will not in any way create a leadership vacuum nor adversely affect service delivery within the City Council. The mayor was commenting on a wide range of topical issues on the City Council state of affairs through an exclusive interview with The New Times’ Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah.
What is the status of the Kigali City Master plan beyond the illustrations we have seen.
The status of the Master Plan is in various phases depending on the various areas of the City. We have started implementation of the Master Plan.
In those areas where we have detailed physical plans we have now embarked on implementation which to me is good news. We can now say that the Master Plan is being actualized and is now real.
Prior to this, for the last two or so years we have been on concept development as well as getting to explain this concept to stakeholders for the purposes of getting them to buy into it.
Because the implementation of the Master Plan entails making changes here and there, in such a situation stakeholders are bound to be resistant to certain issues enshrined in the concept as it is a new phenomenon.
Thus it is a lot easier when people get a feel of the implementation part. From that perspective we have started implementing the Master Plan in those areas where we have finalized the detailed physical plans like in Lower Kiyovu.
Within the entire city different zones and locations are in different phases of development.
For instance within Nyarugenge District, plans will be finalized by end November. However different pockets of Nyarugenge has seen significant strides in terms of development like Lower Kiyovu for instance where we are now constructing the requisite facilities such as new roads while in Gasabo and Kicukiro we are still on the planning phase.
What are the plans for the development of Upper Kiyovu within the overall Master Plan.
Upper Kiyovu according to the Master Plan is mainly residential, while the upper part of upper Kiyovu is commercial tending towards facilities such as hospitality outlets or mixed use facilities.
What do you have to say about media reporting cases of poor services within land bureaus especially in the city?
First of all I wish to recognize that we have some work to do in terms of improving our customer care within these land bureaus and even within the urban planning department.
However I would highlight that we have made some progress especially if you put this whole issue of service delivery within the land bureaus into the entire perspective.
I must say that we have covered some ground. For instance as we speak we have better qualified urban planners.
Though we still have very few, I am aware that we need to recruit more. We also have instituted the formal structure needed to speed up service delivery.
We have instituted the newly formed land commissions which are hardly a year old to assist with offering redress into some of these challenges.
When these commissions start operating fully I firmly believe that we shall get to the bottom of this matter.
Thirdly, and this is very important, is the fact that we are currently not guided by subjectivities as we have a legal framework through a law complete with procedures and guidelines in form of a master plan that should be able to offer a sustainable solution.
Some people who communicate with us are of the opinion that the roads in the suburbs are in dire need of upgrading. What is your response?
I do appreciate the fact that we need to put in more efforts in that regard than probably what we are doing. I can only request citizens to take an active role is pointing out such issues.
Since undertaking such ventures is quite an expensive matter, we need to look at how other approaches can be brought to play and assist.
We have so far looked at how some of these roads can be upgraded using resources that we have.
By now you must be aware of the 36 kilometre road network that we are working on at the moment in which we are both doing the main roads and those linking the suburbs.
However to boost the work of resurfacing those roads within the suburbs we are making a plea within the communities for contributions.
For instance we would highly appreciate community efforts geared towards putting up drainage and even resurfacing.
We believe that as a Council whenever people make such contributions it gives us the motivation to come in. We have also had an agreement with Ministry of Defense to assist us repair some of our equipment for the purpose of resurfacing approximately 100 kilometres of roads.
What is the latest on the municipal bond as we had been told that it was meant to be listed on the stock exchange some time back in September?
It is going on quite well, I must say. The only issue that was contentious that was attracting further debate was the land valuation.
We were meant to acquire land for the purposes of developing infrastructure in which we had to buy land as a package and selling it off as serviced land parcels.
There has been a lot of debate on the issue of the value of land. This in itself made it not easy for us to move on up till just the other day when cabinet came up with a position that should offer guidance on the way forward.
Truly the land issue was the only outstanding item that was standing in the way of the municipal bond.
Let us talk about cases of demolitions of structures put up by private developers within areas like Gasabo.
It is only proper if we abide by what the law says. This is the background to the decisions we make regarding of everything that we do.
We would have no reason whatsoever in having the Kigali City Master Plan if we have no regard to what the law says.
Even before the master plan came we had laws that were formulated to guide urban planning.
These laws are very clear that before putting up a structure it is proper for a developer to seek authorization and clearance. Why bother with clearance and authorization?
The main reason is to ensure safety, security and better land usage.
For the case of this developer in question what he ought to have done was that he needed to seek authorization for extension of works he wanted to undertake before actually commencing works.
In a situation whereby he moved to undertake works for extension before seeking authorization, I must say that he broke the law.
How about Eugene Nyagahene and Kigali City Park Project?
What the public ought to know is that Kigali City Park is a private public partnership project. The City is the majority shareholder alongside our partners Eugene Nyagahene and Thaddeus Ndamage together with BRD.
In this arrangement all the parties put together a project which did not see completion. We got stuck within what came out to be the new environmental guidelines.
Eventually we finally agreed that we need to conclude on the way forward.
One way that was floated was to give Nyagahene and Ndamage an exit strategy whereby they could be bought out.
What I can point out clearly here is that a solution is being worked out though it has taken some time but entities have been approached to buy out these two gentlemen.
Let us revisit the Cabinet guidelines of land valuation and how it is likely to impact on the development of the Master Plan.
What is important is that the price approved by Cabinet is what can be known technically as reference points. Secondly these references will guide things to do with expropriation.
You need to be aware of the fact that there is a glaring difference between expropriation and buying of ordinary land.
So this guidance is critical on cases whereby any party wishes to put up a public utility in which case this reference will definitely come into play.
From that perspective this comes in handy with the implementation of the master plan. This is because it will give guidance as a reference point to the expropriation process.
Some people say that Kigali City’s cleanliness is only restricted to the key boulevards of the city leaving other areas largely unattended.
Let me be clear in my statement that beyond those boulevards a lot has been achieved. I think that when you look back two or three years even within our neighbourhoods I must say that people have come to a point whereby they are more sensitive and much more attentive to making the environment clean.
I do agree that a lot still needs to be done. But I do want to appreciate what we have been able to achieve today. You see cleaning goes hand in hand with greening.
We have just signed an MOU with a cooperative society that is going to assist us plant some ornamental trees along our roads and we want that to go beyond the roads right up to the neighbourhoods.
Let us talk about allegations of corruption within your council in a situation whereby a case involving your Executive Secretary was reported within media
What I can say is that there was mismanagement of contracts at the city level. In Kicukiro and Gasabo it was the wrongful award of a tender. What I must point out is that we have not really got a clear case of corruption going on record and that is why some of those mentioned are under suspension.
It is only in Gasabo in one case the person implicated is under custody as the case continues. I want to be very clear that it is not a confirmed case.
However my take on this grave matter is that as leaders we should struggle and strive to be as transparent as possible in all our activities.
This is because once we have approved the performance contracts then we have to be held accountable not forgetting that transparency is key in all that we do.
In some cases we have had decisions being made without sufficient engagement and consultations.
But I believe that within such shortcomings we have moved with speed to handle any challenges arising and I must say that we will institute more efforts within our oversight functions for the purposes of boosting service delivery within all our working sites.
That gives way to the question of a leadership vacuum owing to various local public officials within the city council being hounded out of offices for a variety of reasons. Does that leave a leadership vacuum within City affairs?
Within the council we normally work as a team. In the absence of a colleague the law is clear about who takes charge.
In the case whereby we have officials leaving office in the manner you are talking about, we have convened meetings to refocus on what needs to be done to ensure that collective efforts garnered can bridge the gaps.
Meaning that so far I am not aware of the gaps bringing forth problems within service delivery be it at the city or district levels.