If one was in Venice or Mexico City, one would have a sinking feeling - literally. Probably for Venice, the famous “floating city” with its myriad of canals, part of its sinking problems is caused by global warming and the rise of the ocean levels. But the other problem has been caused by water, or the lack of it.
The city at one time used to have hundreds of wells; as the population grew huge, quantities of water was drawn from the deep aquifers that acted like balloons and propped up the city.
Once the “balloons” were deflated and the weight of modern concrete buildings came into play, the city began to sink.
Mexico City has similar aquifer-related problems since it is built on an unstable lake bed and has a population of over 20 million who need water.
It is estimated that it has sunk nine metres in the last one hundred years, about the height of a three-storey building.
Kigali might not fair better if drastic steps are not taken to meet the population explosion and their ever increasing need for water.
Environmental protection should cease being a mere catchy word with no real action. The new Kigali City masterplan should seriously consider doing something about the sewage and drainage system of the ever growing metropolis.
One only has to visit Ubwiza village in Gasabo to see the impact of unplanned construction in wetlands - buildings are being swept off their foundations.
Consider the fact that every compound in this city has at least two or three septic tanks drilled in the ground to hold both human waste and rain water.
Some neighbourhoods like Biryogo will surely go Mexico City’s way and start sinking because at least a third of the surface area is made of pit latrines groaning under the weight of new concrete buildings.
Our hills need to be propped up like Venice and not washed away by heavy rains simply because city planners have not come up with a relevant sewage and drainage blueprint.