Up to 81 per cent of compensation arrears that were owed to people for their property expropriated to pave the way for public infrastructure projects has been paid, according to Minister of Local Government, Jean Claude Musabyimana. Information The New Times obtained from the Ministry of Local Government shows that by December 2023, expropriation issues were handled at 81 per cent where more than Rwf58 billion was paid to 82,924 files, out of more than Rwf72 billion owed to 131,603 files that were valued. Musabyimana said only over Rwf13 billion has not yet been paid in compensation to the affected people, blaming the situation on concerns over property ownership, such as people who have not yet gotten land titles. He made the disclosure on January 20, during Isesenguramakuru programme on Radio Rwanda which focused on the role of the National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) in the country’s development. The programme was held three days before the 19th edition of Umushyikirano, a two-day session, which will start on Tuesday, January 23. ALSO READ: Govt to pay Rwf30 billion in expropriation arrears The aforementioned development comes after the report of the Office of Ombudsman for the fiscal year 2022/2023 exposed an issue of compensation for residents’ properties that were expropriated to implement different infrastructure projects including roads, electricity, and water among others. Examples of people who were still asking the government to pay them outstanding compensations include some residents whose properties were expropriated for the construction of Ngoma-Bugesera-Nyanza road in Eastern Province, the roads Kinigi-Kabuhanga and Kinigi-Karisimbi in Musanze District; the Butaro-Kirambo-Base road in Burera District; and the Kayonza-Rusumo road in Kirehe District. The Office of Ombudsman recommended that responsible institutions should make a list of people whose properties were affected by expropriation, and look for a budget to cover the compensation arrears for the executed projects. ALSO READ: PAC warns City of Kigali against expropriation before compensation According to Musabyimana, the government committed to addressing the issue of outstanding compensations owed to residents, indicating that different concerned entities work together to identify all the affected people and work on their payments. “So far, we identified and counted all the affected people, and their expropriated properties as well as when that happened. We also handled them such that all the files that were meeting requirements were paid in December [of 2023]. It means that we paid up to 81 per cent of the expropriation files we had in the government, in partnership with concerned entities,” he observed. Way forward for the remaining Rwf13 billion Regarding the Rwf13 billion that has not yet been paid in compensation for expropriation, Musabyimana said that completing the files that were still lacking supportive documents continues. To this end, he said, officials from local administrative entities were mandated to ensure that the files are full. He said the compensation delays mostly concern old cases—at least a year old— as for new ones, they are paid on time. “This is an issue to which we gave priority such that we hope that even the remaining files will be complete in the near future and get paid to ensure the problem is solved,” he said. In March 2020, lawmakers argued that delays or issues in expropriation payments stem from non-compliance with the provisions of the law relating to expropriation in the public interest which was enacted in 2015. The law provides that the approved fair compensation shall be paid within a period not exceeding 120 days from the day of its approval by the district or City of Kigali Council, or the relevant ministry. It further stipulates that the compensation for disruption caused by expropriation to be paid to the expropriated person shall be equivalent to 5 per cent of the total value of his/her property expropriated.