Directives by the Mayor of Gasabo District, Kigali City to demolish some houses in Gakinjiro market have sparked a tenancy row.
Information from the area says two houses were destroyed on Tuesday as a way of resolving an ongoing standoff involving three parties in Gisozi Sector.
The quarrel is between Thomas Singirankabo, a tenant who claims compensation for the destroyed houses from his landlord, Joseph Murenzi, who in 2007 sold the land to Adarwa.
Adarwa is an association of timber dealers who claim to have bought the land and now want the site released to them for development.
Murenzi could not be reached for comment, but a handwritten rent agreement with Singirankabo, allows the latter to repair the houses and freely occupy them for four years. According to Singirankabo, in 2004 he spent Frw 1.3m to repair the houses as agreed with his landlord.
“But what shocked me later was early last year ‘s decision by Murenzi to sell the land where the houses are built and refused to refund my Frw0.5 million,” he explained.
He claims to have lost property worth Frw4 million in Tuesday’s incident, which happened before the Kacyiru Lower Instance Court could hear the case.
The orders by the district Mayor, Claudine Nyinawagaga, to destroy the houses are perceived by Singirankabo as a move to deny him compensation.
Efforts to contact the Mayor were fruitless by press time, but her directives were clearly outlined in a June 20, 2008 letter to Gisozi Sector’s Executive Secretary. She gave Singirankabo two days to vacate the houses and stressed that the assets belong to Adarwa.
Singirankabo accused her of giving Adarwa the green light to destroy the houses before the court ruling, which he hopes will genuinely resolve the row between him, Murenzi and Adarwa.
“For us our position is clear,” the head of Adarwa, Faustin Gashaija said Thursday, stressing that they bought the land long ago from its owner and paid all amounts they had agreed upon.
The Adarwa boss accused Singirankabo of having refused compensation since last year, and instead kept on playing tricks to reclaim ownership of the destroyed houses.
Regarding the destruction of houses, Gashaija distanced himself from the incident,which he said was ordered and supervised by Gisozi Sector authorities.
The destruction of houses has led to widespread criticisms in Gakinjiro market by carpenters infuriated by the Mayor’s move.
They regard the decision by the Gasabo district authorities as contemptuous since the issue was still before court and would likely spark more tenancy crises.