Feasibility studies and design have been completed and if everything goes according to plan, Rwanda’s pilgrimage site of Kibeho in Nyaruguru district will have a new basilica with a seating capacity of 10,000.
Speaking to The New Times on Sunday, Francois Habitegeko, the Mayor of Nyaruguru, said that they expect the new basilica to be complete by November 2021, when the holy site marks it's 40 anniversary.
Habitegeko said that engineers have already presented the design to the Catholic Church and the district authorities.
The construction works for the facility are estimated to cost up to $70 million (Rwf64bn).
“They presented the design and implementation plan to us. There is also a foundation called “Our Lady of Kibeho basilica” that is in charge of raising the resources to finance the project,” the Mayor said.
The Foundation, he said, was established by Christians led by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a US-based Rwandan author.
Iribagiza regularly brings Christians from around the globe to pray from the Kibeho holy land.
Her first book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (2006), is an autobiographical work detailing how she survived during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
The basilica will have a VIP section to cater for the high-profile visitors.
As part of the project, the basilica will have large gardens with a capacity to accommodate up to 100,000 pilgrims.
The target is to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the new basilica.
“Once completed, it will attract more pilgrims and tourists presenting a big opportunity for businesses and the hospitality sector in the district,” the Mayor said.
Kibeho receives between 500,000 and 600,000 pilgrims every year.
The Mayor pointed out that with the continued increase in pilgrims, more accommodation facilities need to be constructed.
“There are not enough good hotels which prevents tourists from staying for long,” Habitegeko said.
But that is set to change.
“We have given land and a construction permit to an investor to build a four-star hotel,” he said.
Other infrastructure projects underway in this region include road being to the site and the works to upgrade Munini hospital which will be soon be completed
The 66 km Huye-Nyaruguru road is expected to be completed in 30 months at the cost of Rwf70 billion.
“The road, the hospital, the basilica and others are good infrastructure facilities to serve the pilgrims,” he said.
These projects will be a big boost to Kibeho
Kibeho of Nyaruguru in Southern Province is an important place for Catholics as it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to some teenagers in the remote area in 1981.
Three female teenagers witnessed apparitions in the following years and Mary left a message of repentance and encouraged Rwandans to love each other.
Since then, the place every year receives Catholic believers from across the world including global celebrities and other important personalities.Follow NkurunzizaMiche