Government earmarks Rwf11bn to expropriate swamp dwellers

(L - R) Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Coletha Ruhamya, Chief Executive Officer of FENERWA Hubert Ruzibiza and Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Environment, Fatina Mukarubibi during the presentation of the 2019/2020 budget consultations in parliament on May 09, 2019. / Bahizi Craish

People who legally occupy swamps in the City of Kigali, will soon be evicted and will be compensated to a tune of Frw 11,227,100,000, according to figures from the Ministry of Environment.

The ministry’s permanent secretary, Fatina Mukarububi and officials from the four institutions affiliated to the ministry were at parliament on Thursday evening to defend their allocation in the 2019/20 budget framework.

In the budget, whose execution starts in July, the ministry has been allocated over Rwf35 billion and of which, Rwf11 billion will go towards the expropriation of these facilities in Kigali City swamps.

During the meeting with members of the parliamentary committee on budget and national patrimony, Mukarubibi said that among the establishments that are going to be brought down in the swamps include a hotel, three schools and seven garages.

These establishments could not be readily identified by press time.

“These people will be compensated because they are legally settled in these areas and have documents but for the greater good, they will have to relocate to other areas in order to save the environment,” Prime Ngabonziza, the Director General Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA) told the parliamentarians.

He was responding to queries by MPs who wondered why such a huge amount was going to be spent, yet it is a known fact that swamps are protected areas.

He however noted that all people will be compensated but in phases because the entire amount cannot be accessed at once.

In the three-hour long meeting, the officials discussed with the legislators the different allocations to the ministry and affiliated institutions that include; Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA) , Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA), Rwanda Green Fund and Meteo Rwanda.

Among some of the agreed priorities by all stakeholders during the meeting included increasing the percentage of public forest allocated to private operators from 5 per cent (2017) to 80% by 2024, increase small forest stakeholders into productive forests and managed by Forest Owners Association up to 50% by 2024.

Tree species planted will be increasingly oriented towards commercially viable ones to support development of the wood industry in addition to other important ones such as fruits.

Ngabonziza urged the Ministry of Environment to look into the idea of planting more eucalyptus in the country as it is such a fast growing and hence a profitable tree.

“There are 180 species of eucalyptus in the world and only five of them can survive under Rwandan conditions, we should therefore focus on planting more eucalyptus because of its known value,’’ he noted.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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