Government moves to privatise “idle” Mageragere bio-medic waste incinerator

The Mageragere incinerator was bought in 2010 but remains idle, which the minister said is a result of poor planning on behalf of those who procured the machine nearly nine years ago.
Minister of Health Dr Diana Gashumba addresses members of parliament as Health Facility Specialist, Donatien Bajyanama looks on. / Craish Bahizi

A government-owned bio-medical waste incinerator that has been lying idle for nine years in Kigali City’s Mageragere site will be operational in the next three months and the government wants members of the private sector to buy it and put it to use.

The revelation was made on Tuesday by the Minister for Health, Dr. Diane Gashumba, as she appeared in the Lower Chamber of Parliament to respond to issues observed by MPs in the health sector.

The Mageragere-based incinerator was bought in 2010 but remains idle, which the minister said is a result of poor planning on behalf of those who procured the machine nearly nine years ago.

“I can admit that planning wasn’t done well for this incinerator to become operational,” she said.

She said that Rwf798million has so far been spent on the machine since 2010, including buying the equipment, repairing some of its parts that were damaged, and finding space where to install it and a water supply system it needed to use.

Both the water system and space where to install the machine were not planned earlier before procuring the machinery, which led to the equipment lying idle for years, the minister said.

“Studies and plans were done before procuring the incinerator but they weren’t well coordinated. If they had been well coordinated, the machine would have arrived when we have the space where to install it and water it needs to use already available,” she told the MPs.

Then she revealed that the incinerator will be operational in the next three months and that a private entrepreneur will be required to buy the equipment at a reasonable price and use it to serve different hospitals in Kigali and other businesses.

“It is better that it (the incinerator) is managed by a private entrepreneur because the government’s role isn’t to burn waste,” she told The New Times shortly after meeting the MPs.

Members of Parliament follow Minister of Health Dr Diane Gashumba's presentation yesterday.

An incinerator is equipment used for burning waste material, especially industrial waste, at high temperatures until it is reduced to ash.

In 2014, a report by the Auditor General for 2012/13 fiscal year indicated that several bio-medical waste incinerators procured by the government had issues, with construction delays noticed at Mageragere incineration plant.

At the session, several MPs wondered if the government won’t lose money by privatising the plant and whether private entrepreneurs won’t charge exorbitant fees to provide services to hospitals.

The minister said that those issues will be decided by the Cabinet in a meeting and a reasonable price for the plant will be decided as well as terms of reference for the privatisation process.

About twelve questions regarding issues observed in the health sector, including progress with the construction of health posts and health centres across the country as well as service delivery among others,  were asked to the minister at the session on Tuesday.

Many of them were about service delivery in the sector and how the government is expanding access to quality healthcare services across the country.

The minister said that a lot is being done in the sector and promised the legislators that a lot more will be done to improve healthcare services.

“We are going to make efforts to address the issues that you have raised and we appreciate your advice and the work you have done to assess services in the health sector,” she said.

The legislators were generally satisfied with her explanations and didn’t ask her to send a written explanation of what the government is doing to improve the health sector as it is normally the practice when they aren’t satisfied with a cabinet minister’s verbal responses.