Give Kigali an Integrated Infrastructural Planning body

A person that is going nowhere cannot be worried of getting lost. Only someone headed somewhere would be worried of losing their way and that is precisely why travelers need maps to plan their journeys; clearly, Kigali is a city on the move and unafraid to learn from mistakes.

A person that is going nowhere cannot be worried of getting lost. Only someone headed somewhere would be worried of losing their way and that is precisely why travelers need maps to plan their journeys; clearly, Kigali is a city on the move and unafraid to learn from mistakes.

Right now, the biggest development story in Kigali, is the ongoing expansion exercise of city roads and, oh boy! We should bow in respect to the men and women at Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), the authority charged with the assignment. 

I know for a fact that as the rest of us troop out of offices on the dot of the official departure time to go enjoy our weekends; the guys at RTDA have had none of that in a long time as they often leave office past 9pm, pouring over road design plan printouts to ensure execution is accurate.

Truth be told, we all have tight deadlines at work, but RTDA deadlines make sense. They must be tight. Here is why?

See, you, the road user must not be inconvenienced; I mean, if they are going to close the road going to your house, your wish is that the inconvenience is only for a limited period; so whenever you curse the bother, you’re pushing the pressure knob higher on the RTDA people.

Previously, RTDA has delivered on its assignments in time, to everyone’s enjoyment; the most recent is the dazzling two-way network below the Kigali Heights Complex in Kacyiru. Remember the relentless work they put in, by day and night?

But in my view, RTDA needs help from policy makers. Just one policy intervention that would improve their capacity to deliver on their mission of ‘contributing towards the realization of {national} economic development and poverty reduction objectives…by establishing and managing of transport infrastructure and services’.

The ongoing road expansion has helped bring to light a policy gap that is currently obstructing RTDA’s vision of ‘gaining modern infrastructure, cost effective and quality services, while ensuring sustainable economic growth and developing eco-friendly, safe and seamless integrated multimodal transport system for passenger and goods both at national and regional level’.

It appears that, the country’s various infrastructural planning agencies such as for housing; water and electricity are currently working in isolation of each other as opposed to collaborating through an integrated infrastructural planning and development model.

As a result, when city water engineers have to fix an underground plumbing system, they will often do so at the cost of a road since the pipe network was planned independently from the road.

Now, as city roads are being expanded, engineers are compelled to destroy buildings that are barely a decade old; buildings whose construction was permitted by the city planning authorities.

An even interesting irony is that, even the building that housed RTDA offices in Kicukiro is among those marked for destruction to ‘pave way’ for the road expansion.

Other notable buildings marked for destruction include the Ministry of Health offices’ compound, Jomo Kenyatta University and a number of commercial structures.

Water pipes as well as electricity lines planned and developed a few years ago by their respective planning agencies will also be destroyed and replaced by new ones to accommodate the new roads; all these are costs, biggest chunk of which goes to compensation of property owners.

So, what can be done?

First of all, we should be proud of our mistakes as they’re a sign of movement to somewhere. Development has an expiry date; a few years ago, there was nothing wrong with our roads, but owing to the city’s rapid growth, new needs have emerged.

An integrated physical planning and development model is therefore needed to improve the quality of planning and extend the expiry date of infrastructure plans.

In this case, let us create a one-stop-centre for city infrastructure planning and development bringing together the country’s housing, water, electricity and roads planning agencies in one roof; to integrate their plans so that they are inclusive of each other.

There, already, is the Kigali one-stop-centre for construction permits overseeing all construction related business; let it be expanded to include planning teams from electricity, water and roads agencies and develop a template for integrated physical infrastructure planning model.
 

 

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