About a week ago, a $12 million Gatare Tea Factory in Nyamasheke District rejected four tonnes of tea leaves over deterioration because of delay caused by the destruction of bridges and roads due to heavy rain, Fred Rwagasana, the Managing Director of the factory told Sunday Times.
The tea was supplied by farmers under the COTEGA – a tea growing cooperative in Gatare, Karambi Sector of Nyamasheke District.
As vehicles could not access the tea plantations because the bridges were damaged, he said, farmers had to walk to take their produce using distant roads that were passable.
“The tea had to reach the factory at 6 pm, but, it arrived at about 12 pm. Its quality was compromised by the delay,” he said.
Fabien Ntawangundi, the COTEGA manager said that there are three bridges that need to be rehabilitated. The cooperative has over 3,200 farmers growing tea on over 1,700 hectares of farmland.
“Farmers lost their money because the road that was to help them take their produce to the factory is not safe and its bridges were destroyed. There is a need for setting up good infrastructures to ease farmers’ access to markets,” he told Sunday Times.
Figures from The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees (MIDIMAR) show that from January to May 10, 2018 heavy rains resulted in the deaths of over 215 people and injured 239 others. 4,973.5 hectares of crops were damaged and over 10,000 houses damaged by the rains. They also destroyed 49 bridges, damaged 60 roads, and killed 708 animals.
Government promises to solve the problem
The government will look for immediate solutions to construct or repair destroyed bridges to ease movement, officials have said.
“The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) is working on the issue so that means are availed for people to be able to move,” MIDIMAR minister Jeanne d’Arc De Bonheur told Sunday Times.
Speaking on Friday during a press conference on disaster management, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that the Government has been working to ensure that destroyed bridges become passable again.
The Premier said that three bridges are already under repair, adding that others will be rehabilitated soon.
A team to assess the amount of damages by the rains, and devise required intervention was given a week – from May 10, 2018 – to give a consolidated report on the issue, according De Bonheur.