Over the past three years [2023, 2022, 2021], the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) received 64 cases of forged land titles and construction permits. ALSO READ: There are fake construction permits on the market, City of Kigali warns RIB’s spokesperson Thierry Murangira disclosed that five districts namely Nyarugenge, Gasabo, Rubavu, Kicukiro, and Rwamagana are on top of many cases of forged land titles and construction permits. ALSO READ: City dwellers warned of scams in property market “For instance, the cases in Nyarugenge District occupied 21.8 per cent of all forged land titles and construction permits cases across the country, while cases in Gasabo took 20.3 per cent. Kamonyi and Musanze districts are also among the top 10 districts with many cases of such forgery,” he said. According to Murangira, 118 suspects were arrested for forging land titles, and construction permits. ALSO READ: Construction permits top on corruption list “We recorded 30 cases of fake construction permits involving 44 suspects and 34 cases of fake land titles involving 74 suspects across the country,” he said. In 2023, 20 cases were received, 34 cases were received in 2021 and the rest in 2022. The City of Kigali recorded many cases accounting for 51.5 per cent followed by Southern Province with 17.1 per cent of all cases countrywide. Cases in Western Province occupied 15.6 per cent, Eastern Province had 9.3 per cent and Northern Province had 6. 2 per cent of all nationwide cases recorded. “We discovered that some engineers collaborate with construction project owners to forge construction permits,” he said, adding that some so-called engineers pledge construction permits to landowners and charge them a lot of money. He explained that the culprits use original permits, and scan and edit them by changing words to the extent that they look like original documents. ALSO READ: Eliminate fake title deeds racket “On these forged documents, they also put on a barcode from original documents to entice people that the forged ones are original.” Barcode is a machine-readable code in the form of numbers and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on a document that is scanned to be able to read owners of documents. On January 8, 2024, RIB announced that it arrested Engineer Marie Baririmana and two constructors namely Sad Ntezirizaza Sad, and Nicolas Ritararenga for forging construction permits. “If convicted they are punished for five to seven years in prison and between Rwf3 and Rwf5 million in fines,” Murangira noted. On January 16, the City of Kigali destroyed some buildings that were being constructed without permits in Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge districts. Delayed construction permits blamed ALSO READ: New fees to be levied on building permits Different people reacted to the decision of pulling down the buildings saying that issuing construction permits is delayed despite the city’s commitment to issue a construction permit within 15 days and if it delays, within not more than 21 days. ALSO READ: CoK vows to address delays in land transfer, construction permits According to engineers who facilitate landowners in getting permits, delays in issuing construction permits trigger forgery or corruption. One of the factors in illegal construction is the lack of physical plans. According to the Master Plan, physical plans are well-planned and designed settlement sites with physical infrastructure including public services, drainage, transport, economic activities, recreation, and amenities to protect the environment. ALSO READ: Why some landowners will wait longer for construction permits “The government should fast-track the development of physical plans in different zones. This is because, without physical plans, residents can’t get construction permits for their projects. Addressing this issue will also address unplanned settlements,” said Fikiri Epaphrodite, an engineer. On the other hand, Papias Dedeki Kazawadi, another engineer, said engineers and architects who are not registered in the Institution of Engineers Rwanda (IER), those registered but are dishonest, and “those who call themselves engineers” are behind many cases of forging construction permits. “We have to work with all institutions, communities, and landowners to stamp out the culprits and so-called engineers and architects. It will become easier to penalise those who are members of the engineers’ council, but for those who are not, it is not easy for us to detect and punish them,” he said. He urged all construction project owners to have advisors registered in engineers and architects’ councils to ensure they are not involved in illegal construction.