Delivering quality service is among the leading topics being discussed at a five-day local leaders retreat at Gabiro RDF Combat Training Centre in Gatsibo District.
The retreat was organised by the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) in collaboration with the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA).
It brings together 183 participants, including governors and mayors from the four provinces and the City of Kigali, their executive secretaries and executive committee members, as well as division managers of the 30 districts of the country.
The official launch of the retreat was on Wednesday and presided over by Cyriaque Harelimana, the Minister of State in charge of Social Economic Development.
Harelimana said government officials were there for citizens, and the reason of the retreat was to sit together and learn how they can better serve citizens.
“We have a task to help citizens overcome poverty, we have made a significant step forward, but we still have people we need to lift out of poverty,” he said.
“We have asked districts, sectors and cells to come up with a service charter showing people how long it will take to get a certain service as long as they meet all requirements,” he said.
“We call upon residents to read them, whenever they do not get the service within the specified time, they should come and tell us, then the decision is ours to make,” he added.
Harelimana revealed that there are efforts to improve service quality at the cell level to reinforce the implementation of government’s decentralisation policy. There had been claims that cells’ services are poorer than at the higher local government levels mostly due to having a small number of services providers.
“We want citizens to understand that everything is done in their name, they should participate,” he said.
The official said the Local Government ministry recently opened a platform where every citizen is free to directly share their ideas and lodge their complaints.
“They can come [to the ministry office], some may use phone calls, others can write,” he said.
In a short period of time feedback from the ministry is given, he said. “It works and it is already paying off,” he added.
Citizens have responsibility to protect development projects and to point out what needs to be done, he said.
Citing roads construction as an example, Harelimana said residents should be the ones to check if the constructor is doing it properly and report to the officials in case of problems.
Rwanda has embarked on a national transformation effort to become a high-income economy and ensure high living standards under the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) and District Development Strategies (DDS).
The retreat is a platform for local government leaders to exchange leadership and management skills, learn how to efficiently plan, prioritise and effectively implement planned activities and government policies at local levels.