The Minister for Infrastructure Erneste Nsanzimana has said that the Government has paid most of the Rwf35.4 billion it owed to residents whose properties were affected by electricity projects countrywide, as MPs pushed for timely and fair compensations. He revealed the progress on Tuesday, October 18, while appearing before the Chamber of Deputies to provide responses to issues related to water and electricity access across the country. Nsanzimana told lawmakers that from the fiscal year 2016-2017 until September 2022, the Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and its affiliated entities received over 96,700 files which required compensations amounting to over Rwf35.4 billion. Among them, he said, 81.2 per cent [or 78,520 files] worth over Rwf28.2 billion (79.6 per cent of the due amount) have been paid so far through the allocated budget, while the remaining files have not yet been paid. He shared the figures while responding to the issue of the compensation arrears that the Ministry of Infrastructure owes to residents whose properties were expropriated to pave the way for electricity distribution projects, as well as when they would be fully paid. “We expect that all the remaining [compensations] will have been paid by the end of the second quarter of the 2022-2023 fiscal year,” he said, adding that paying compensations will continue being done as electricity infrastructure projects are implemented. Talking about the challenges that the Ministry faces while paying the due compensations for the expropriated properties, he cited budget constraints, as well as the property ownership disputes, and incomplete files, which result in delays. Ensuring fair compensations MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa said that article 36 of the law relating to expropriation in the public interest which was enacted in 2015, 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. Also, article 37 of the same law, stipulates that if fair compensation is not paid within the 120-day period, the expropriator shall be bound to pay 5 per cent more of fair compensation that had to be paid to the person to be expropriated. “The Minister told us about the [compensations] arrears from as far as 2016, which have not yet been paid thus far. Is this provision complied with, do the affected residents get fair compensation, including the additional 5 per cent that is provided for by the law,” she wanted to know. “What should be done to ensure that the resident is placed first such that when development projects are planned, which are indeed good for the country, the rights of the resident are respected so that they get fair compensation,” she asked. The Minister said that through negotiations, sometimes the residents, because they so much need a road, say they would waive some benefits so that they get it. “But again, we should comply with the existing law. There are cases where money is available and payment is made within 60 days. He said that in the City of Kigali, the 5 per cent additional compensation was being paid in case of delays, but pointed out that there is a need to see whether that is also done countrywide “because that money should be included.” Meanwhile, he told lawmakers that overall electricity access among Rwandan households is at 74 per cent currently, while the target is to achieve universal electrification in 2024.