Give us money, instead of new homes, residents of city’s largest unplanned settlement tell CoK


Nyarutarama's Kangondo neighbourhood that is set for a major face-lift. (Nadege Imbabazi)

City of Kigali authorities plan to meet home owners in Kigali’s largest unplanned settlement – in the Kangondo I and Kangondo II zones of Nyarutarama – next Tuesday to chart the way forward regarding their relocation and redevelopment of the area.

One of the outstanding issues the homeowners in the area want resolved is their demand for money in compensation, instead of each receiving a house in a new neighbourhood in Kigali.

The New Times first covered the project last September when city businessman Denis Karera said the Savannah Creek project would soon undertake the process to redevelop the shanty neighbourhood, commonly known as ‘Bannyahe’, for its lack of proper sewerage system.

City of Kigali spokesperson Bruno Rangira told The New Times that: “We are presently finalising the valuation of the properties in Kangondo and there are plans of meeting the residents to inform them about the cost of their properties.”

Last September, Karera told The New Times that their aim is to develop the Kangondo I and Kangondo II slums, the largest in Rwanda, into a grade A [high-end] area of the city.

He said they were working with government to develop the area and transform it into a modern high-end suburb.

Karera earlier said that the project for relocation would be done through 2018 and, in early 2019, they will start developing a new city estate. According to him, it is a three-year project in which they plan to start building 520 housing units that include stand-alone bungalows and apartments.

Waiting for CoK to do their part

When contacted on Tuesday, Karera said that “we are making progress.”

Everything, he said, is now in the hands of city authorities.

“On our part, we are ready to start. We are waiting for CoK to do their part and we start.”

Last year, The New Times learned that in the case of the redevelopment of Kangondo, residents who own houses there would be offered better houses and amenities in a better place in Kicukiro District.

This is said to be part of the National Strategy for Upgrading Informal Settlement.

The development is a joint venture with the private sector, Rwanda Housing Authority and Gasabo District to provide decent housing to people living in Kangondo I and II, according to the City of Kigali.

When moving the residents, Rangira explained, the developer and district shall follow all appropriate laws and regulations in order to provide decent housing and livelihood for city residents.

According to him, citizen participation in the process is considered as part and parcel of the process.

The developer already acquired about 27 hectares of land in a zone demarcated for low cost housing in Busanza, in Kicukiro District.

In Busanza, they plan to build better houses for 780 families. Beneficiary families, not individuals, he said, are already registered. And they will not buy the houses but receive a new house, each, in exchange for what they now have in Kangondo.

But before they start redeveloping Kangondo, the residents must be relocated.

We want money

When The New Times first visited the slum last year, Jean Marie Vianney Ntaganzwa, a father of two who owns a house and earns Rwf100,000, monthly, from tenants who rent four tiny rooms, had said they were not well informed about the relocation project.

However, on Wednesday, Ntaganzwa said that he and several other property owners in the slum visited the proposed new settlement site in Busanza and were also shown and briefed on the artistic impressions of the newly planned settlement showing impressive designs of modern flats.

But Ntaganzwa said: “People here don’t want the houses that will be built in Busanza but prefer to be given money so they go and find their own means elsewhere according to their own preferences. We want money.”

“The best situation is where they give me money that corresponds to the value of my property and then I go find housing elsewhere.”

City authorities, he said, were supposed to meet with affected Kangodo area residents last Tuesday but the meeting was postponed.

Adiel Turatsinze, a landlord in the slum.

Adiel Turatsinze, 56, a landlord with nine tenants in the slum, is totally against the idea of moving to new houses in Busanza without being financially compensated.

“The manner in which this project was explained to us is not clear and not appropriate. The first meeting [with city authorities and developers] brought the idea of having our properties’ value estimated and then we be given houses, and we rejected this immediately.

“Our wish is that we get compensated in terms of money, equivalent to our property. How do they expect me, for example, to care for my children when I am living in a flat and no longer have access to the income from the tenants I have now?”

Monica Nyirandayambaje, a mother of four who earns a living by selling charcoal, is equally unyielding about relocating to the new settlement in Busanza.

“My wish is that we are given money and we make our own choices. Most people have houses elsewhere. When I get the money I will move and start my life afresh and carry on with my life. I really didn’t like the idea of Busanza, and we told them this.”

Rangira declined to be drawn into whether the authorities will accept to the residents’ demands, insisting they were committed to providing them with decent affordable housing instead.