GASABO - Residents of Ndera Sector in Gasabo District, expropriated to pave way for a planned COMESA Free Trade Zone are crying foul following delayed compensation, three years after their property was evaluated.
About 800 families in the cells of Minini and Masoro, claim that they have undergone untold suffering following the delayed compensation, because they are not allowed to undertake any activity like farming or even make renovations on their houses since they are expected to move anytime.
According to the residents, the expropriation exercise began in August 2005 and the cells of Kigarama, Manini, Kayumba and Masoro in Ndera Sector were earmarked to be the site of the US$1 m (Frw560m) Free Trade Zone and it was agreed that about 1600 families in the area be compensated to leave the area within a period of three months.
However, after three years, only half of the families have been fully compensated while the rest have waited in vain despite constant pleas to authorities to intervene and save the situation.
They now say that their lives have been seriously affected since they are not in position to do anything developmental on their land.
Following unfulfilled promises of payment, the last being in November 2008, the residents on Friday last week drafted a letter stating their grievances which they forwarded to the mayors of Kigali City and Gasabo and copied to other concerned authorities to come in and rescue the situation.
One of the residents The New Times spoke to, Eric Mutabaruka, said that the families have incurred heavy losses ever since they learnt of their fate.
Among other things, he said that houses cannot be repaired and some have crumbled because owners fear that they will soon be relocated.
He also added that hunger has become a major problem because they are not doing any farming and that they have become victims of vandals who deliberately destroy their property on grounds that it is no longer their property.
They also say that some of the areas already expropriated have been fenced off cutting them off from roads which lead to facilities like markets and hospitals.
Fred Gatsinzi another resident said that he lost his wife recently on the way to the hospital because he had to go around the fenced area which cost him a lot of time, losing his wife in the process.
The Mayor of Kigali, Aisa Kirabo Kakira admitted that some families have not been compensated due to certain circumstances but assured that everything was being done to have them sorted out as soon as possible.
She however said that it’s not true that residents are not allowed to repair their houses as they claim, but instead they are not permitted to construct new structures on the land.
She also said that they were not stopped from growing food crops but from growing perennial crops which take long to grow such as coffee.