The Kigali master plan has got another shot in the arm, says The New Times of last Tuesday. It’s well and good. The title: “Kigali City banks on ‘rehousing model’ to reduce unplanned settlements”. If the action honours the letter, clean and orderly Kigali will be global tops. There is no reason it shouldn’t, if we believe the implementers. The article quotes city officials thus: “There is need for different housing models and schemes to have…Kigali’s residents in planned settlements. One of the strategies to reduce unplanned settlements is the use of a ‘rehousing model.” These models, if there are more than this ‘rehousing model’, have been long in coming. Because, if all the promises are fulfilled, they can see Kigali truly live to its earned title of being one of the world’s cleanest and most orderly. Otherwise, there’ll always be cynics who’ll never cease to throw barbs at how Kigali presents “only its face”, meaning the main streets for beauty and order but covering up near-unseemly backstreets. Those cynics have been to those backstreets and found them orderly, of course, but cynics are cynics. The fact alone that those backstreets are not so prim and pretty as the main streets will provide them with fodder to feed their cynicism. That’s the reason city officials should work on removing unplanned settlements pronto. This is not to say they should work for hecklers, no, but that hecklers’ cynicism should not be the bitter truth that city residents are living uncomfortably. Because as Rwandans, we know that Rwanda is a work in progress and so is Kigali. And there is nothing to be ashamed of: the adage that “Rome was not built in a day” is an old and time-tested one. So, much as Kigali is among the world’s cleanest and most orderly, it’s not at its apex. Among the reasons is its unplanned settlements in some areas. Yet, paradoxically, Rwanda, not Kigali alone, has proved that time-tested adage wrong, when you seriously think about it! Because in the life of a country, and considering the deep feculence (Americans’d use a four-letter word!) she was in, what’s 28 years, if not one day in a person’s life? But let’s confine ourselves to Kigali and to ‘cleaner’ times, if the times I refer to can be called that. Just after 1994, which part of Kigali can you say had any planned settlement? Personally, I can think of Kiyovu for the “rich” (a misnomer, if ever there was one!) and perhaps Kimihurura (“village for then-government ministers”), then upper Nyamirambo for then-government officials. The rest were those high-risk zone “nests” and everywhere else only grassland all around. Talking about the “nests” as risky human habitat of the time, the friend who coined the term must be laughing himself into stitches when, up in the volcanoes, he sees the ultra-luxury lodge, Bisate! That, however, is for the birds, pardon the pun. We were talking about what’s in store for Kigali residents. The basket of goodies will include: being saved from high-risk disasters; getting proper and organised infrastructure; a protected environment; green places with trees; resilience against climate change effects; saying bye to floods; more. Kigali residents, if all the above come to realisation, there are rosy times ahead! The residents will certainly be more than eager to participate. My anxiety is, are our city fathers/mothers referring to all of Kigali settlements? The way I see it, they have in mind only the risky, poor and already settled areas. Even then, how seven families can turn their land plots into areas that can house twenty families escapes me (storeys?)! Anyway, the important thing is there will be improved access to roads, water, power supply, areas for green places, trees, proper waste management, health facilities, schools, markets, children’s play squares and the like. Eng. Mpabwanamaguru, if your team pulls this off, your legs will have served you well! However, your team should not forget to rope in some places like the object of pokes known as “Akajagari k’abakire” (rich man’s slum!), aka Nyarutarama. Executive mansions with green all over, alright, but hardly any order. Here, our city mothers/fathers must ensure all residential areas follow the good example of well-organised estates. Talking of which, in my personal opinion Kibabaga which houses many men/women in uniform takes the trophy. Which is not to say there aren’t many other well-organised settlements, far from it. The biggest concern, though, as everyone’d agree, are settlements constructed by individuals that seem to follow no plan at all. In a 15-metre by 20-metre plot in an R4 zone that’s supposed to settle four families in a 4-storey residence, why is it allowed that four single units are squeezed in, as if nobody supervises the constructors? Who is supposed to enforce respect for the master plan? Leave alone greening the area, those four families will hardly get sufficient air to breathe. Local authorities (in Districts and Sectors), are we together? But the elephant in the room for all: the central sewage system! With big ducts to carry all cables and stop this incessant digging up of finished and beautified surfaces. The views expressed in this article are of the writer.