Residents in wetlands face eviction

KIGALI - In an effort to combat the misuse and over exploitation of natural resources such as water and land, authorities have announced a strategy to tighten rules governing wetland management in Rwanda.
L-R: Martin Ngoga, Rose Mukankomeje.
L-R: Martin Ngoga, Rose Mukankomeje.

KIGALI - In an effort to combat the misuse and over exploitation of natural resources such as water and land, authorities have announced a strategy to tighten rules governing wetland management in Rwanda.

Currently a total area of 165,000 hectares is covered by wetlands and of these, 92,000 hectares are used for agriculture and they have been poorly managed, leading to environmental degradation.

Reuben Ahimbisibwe, the Director of Inspection at Kigali City Council (KCC) said that the prevention of such far- reaching consequences is a collective effort aimed at restoring the lost value of the environment.

“An Industrial Park is being built along the Remera- Kabuga highway to accommodate the growing industries and it is where all of them will eventually be relocated when construction is over,” Ahimbisibwe said by telephone yesterday.

He added: “All the structures for the park that are currently under construction will be offered at a price to recover the expenses incurred for their setting up and their accessories.”

In 2005, a law was passed by Parliament to halt any new settlements in wetlands without evacuating previous settlers. After conclusively establishing the number of people having houses in wetlands, KCC has now embarked on an evaluation exercise to determine the quantity of compensation required.

According to Ahimbisibwe, once the expropriation is effected, evacuations will take course since many construction activities being carried out require input from wetlands such as bricks and sand, a factor that has led to over exploitation of resources.

“As we wait for the right time to evacuate them, any refurbishments on these old structures should be made through the right process where a team of technicians will first inspect to verify the reasons for any renovations,” he said.

The Director General of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), Dr. Rose Mukankomeje lashed out at critics who have left the business of environmental conservation to local government and concerned institutions.

“All stake holders should play their respective roles to create a better environment for all Rwandans,” said Mukankomeje. She revealed that environmental officers at various levels had been facilitated with training workshops and transport means to effectively implement the policy.

“They have each been given motorcycles to ease transport for them during work,” she said.

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