Senators assess land use and habitat master plans

The senators will assess how land for farming has been separated from land for settlement. (Courtesy)

Members of the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance are assessing how land is being used across the country to ascertain whether various master plans are respected

Among the issues being assessed by the MPs include how land for farming has been separated from land for settlement, how master plans for different dwelling areas have been implemented as well as how expropriation processes to pave way for public interest projects have been conducted over the years.

When senators Célestin Sebuhoro and Chrysologue Karangwa met Gasabo District officials in Kigali yesterday as part of the field trips, they said something must be done to avoid unplanned settlements in the future.  

While about 60 per cent of all Kigali City is in Gasabo District, 58.5 per cent of households in the district are in informal settlements.

These are generations-old slums that Senator Karangwa suggests need to be dealt with carefully as they are part of longstanding heritage.

Regarding the issue of slums created in high risk zones in different parts of the district, Karangwa advised that efforts to promote planned settlement should include undertaking efficient expropriation processes.

He warned against violating the expropriation law by failing to pay people before they are asked to move.

A national picture on expropriation progress in the country will be provided as part of the senators’ report on land use and implementation of habitat master plans across the country.

Senator Sebuhoro told The New Times yesterday that, after visiting a dozen of districts, it now seems the biggest challenge in implementing different habitat master plans is that some of the plans are not conclusive and there are changes to be made.

“Most master plans are still temporary when they shouldn’t. A master plan should be a final plan to be followed. Efforts need to be made to avail detailed local physical master plans at the local level,” Sebuhoro said.

He added: “Without detailed local physical master plans, implementation is impossible”.

The Mayor of Gasabo District, Stephen Rwamurangwa, indicated that one of the greatest challenges around the implementation of master plans remains land ownership versus land use requirements whereby some land owners may not necessarily want to respect the master plan while setting up structures.

He said that a lot of mass sensitisation for people to embrace master plans is needed along with a deliberate campaign to bring investors onboard to partner with districts and the Government to address existing problems in the human settlement sector.

The mayor also said that financial challenges remain as districts still struggle to provide locally designated dwelling areas with infrastructure such as roads, water, and electricity to pave way for human settlement.

“Challenges of non-serviced local areas’ master plans remain. Without basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and roads, construction licences can’t be issued to residents,” the mayor said.

It is expected that the senators’ report on the situation of land use and implementation of habitat master plans across the country will be tabled before the Senate early next year.