Government: 6,000 evacuated from high risk zones in a week

Nearly 6,000 people living in high-risk zones, including steep hills and wetlands, were relocated over the last one week alone.

According to the Ministry of Local Government, the relocation was a matter of urgency, owing to the heavy rains that have battered the country, with forecasts predicting more to come. 

Some of the evacuees are temporarily lodged in public facilities like school as schools as a more permanent solution is sought. 

Others were given allowances equivalent to a month's rent, and some opted to seek shelter with friends and families.

The majority of those affected are in the City of Kigali, where close to 2,500 have been evacuated from high-risk zones.

On Wednesday, The New Times visited Kamuhoza Primary School in Kimisagara sector of Nyarugenge district where some of those evacuated are being hosted. 

Since Monday this week, the school is accommodating 15 families who were living in Kimisagara sector, one of the heavily affected areas. 

Each family gets its own classroom. Within the 15 families, there are 64 young children. 

Minister of Environment Jean d'Arc Mujawamariya addresses journalists.

Children were seen playing inside the perimeter of the school, while women were doing domestic chores, including washing clothes.

Gerald Munyabahuma is one of those citizens who were evacuated from Karama.

 He moved out with his family of 16 on Monday evening.

“Leaders advised us to move out because we are exposed to risks owing to the rains that have recently increased,” said the 66-year old man who did not say much.

“They [leaders] warned us that the house next to ours is at risk of being razed down by a mudslide, putting our lives at risk."  

His house, like others in high-risk zones, was not demolished - only houses in wetlands were. The same exercise is being carried out across the country, according to officials.

Asked if they were “forced out”, Munyabahuma said “No.” “They saved us,” he said. “We could lose our lives.”

The evacuees received support from the City of Kigali following a visit by the Ministenister of Emergency Management, Germaine Kamayirese.

Different home items such as jerrycans, buckets, mats, and mosquito nets were provided to help them adapt as a long-term solution is sought. 

“We don’t know how long we will spend here, given that we don’t know when the rains will cease,” said Munyabuhama. 

Schools open early next year and hey will have to move before then. 

According to Alexis Nkomezi, the head of the school, “life may not be the best in here [school premises], but the danger they could encounter in their homes was worse.”

“All we did was in the public’s interest. It is temporary as we are looking for sustainable solutions, said Anastase Shyaka, Minister of Local Government during a press conference this Wednesday.

What was lost?

Up to 15 people died in rain-related disasters during this rainy season.

The City of Kigali says that  7,222 activities needed to be relocated from wetlands.

At least 79 percent of the activities are residential houses of which 51 percent had no construction permits. 

In terms of infrastructure, more than 65  roads accross the country roads have been destroyed by the rains this year. Only 31 have so far been fixed

What has been done?

Nearly 6,000 people have been moved from wetlands and high-risk zones countrywide.

Minister Shyaka thanked benevolent Rwandans whom are currently hosting 4,000 evacuees.

1,500 were provided with one month's rent allowance calculated based on what they were paying.  

Over 300 are sheltered in schools, which will open in two weeks for the next academic year.

So far, 2,495 people have been relocated in Kigali city.

Will better weather halt evacuation?

No. Because other rainy seasons are on the way. And “no one is allowed to live in wetlands, especially in Kigali,” says Shyaka during a news conference on Wednesday.

In this regard, the Government wants to bring numbers down to zero, he said.

Kigali is a city of 73,000ha (730Km2), and 13.8 per cent or 7,600ha are swamps and wetlands.

Before the evacuation, only 2 percent of the affected people willingly relocated.

Minister of Emergency Management and Refugee Affairs Germaine Kamayirese speaks to media

Minister of Local Government Prof Anastase Shyaka addresses media as Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete looks on during a press conference in Kigali yesterday (Sam Ngendahimana)

 

 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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