Social media erupts after Karongi man builds 7km road in three years – unaided

According to the TV1 story, Niringiyimana started working on the road when he was only 20.

A 23-year-old man’s rare audacity has left the country with a sense of pride and inspired many compatriots.

Emmanuel Niringiyimana, a resident of Murambi Sector in Karongi District, became a social media sensation Wednesday after a story about a seven-kilometre road he singlehandedly built in his village went viral on social media platforms.

The TV1 story about the road works, which Niringiyimana embarked on when he was only 20, featured the man himself and his fellow villagers who confirmed that he had built the road all alone.

“He started (working on the road) from across in Mwendo village and then proceeded here, some people thought he was mentally ill,” a resident of Gisovu Village in Nkotu Cell, Murambi Sector, says in the report.

Now residents are all in praise of the young man, pointing out his extraordinary courage, determination and consistency to carry on with his mission even as no one else rendered a hand, “not even through umuganda” (the monthly communal exercise).

Niringiyimana, who appears in the video still working on the road with a hoe, said the idea to build a road for his community first came up in 2016 when he was working in a garden and saw people virtually struggling to move because of lack of a road.

He immediately abandoned what he was doing and embarked on a daring task he continues to religiously carry out three years later.

“I started by clearing a shrub that was inhibiting people’s movements and then carried on,” he said.

Niringiyimana said he works on the road twice a day, from 7a.m-11a.m, and then from 3p.m-6p.m.

The gripping story, which first circulated on WhatsApp, has since inspired an avalanche of public reactions and attracted the immediate attention and keenness of leadership.

The Ministry of Infrastructure announced on Twitter Wednesday evening that it would dispatch a team composed of its own personnel, and officials from Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) and Karongi District Headquarters to Murambi Sector on a fact-finding mission to ascertain how to extend support to Niringiyimana.

“Thank you Fiona! The Ministry of Infrastructure together with @rtda_rwanda and @KarongiDistr are looking at ways to support Emmanuel’s efforts!

“A joint site visit is planned for tomorrow (today) to assess possible support for this commendable initiative,” the ministry tweeted in response to a post by media personality Fiona Mbabazi praising the young man’s patriotic cause.

Reactions continued to pour in throughout the evening, with Mathew Rwahigi tweeting, “This is the best example of consistence (sic). He has done this every day for three years. You don't have to solve everything, just do what is in your power and see miracles.”

“What a young man! This one is truly unmatched,” added one Egide Kubana, who went on to call for a special medal for the 23-year-old.

“Amazing!!!!!!! This is a living hero,” commented another Twitter user Lee Ndayisaba.

Reacting to the news, Edmond Gatera tweeted, “Rwanda needs such youth, patriotism does not need a lot of money, a patriotic heart can do miracles.”

A source at the Ministry of Infrastructure told The New Times last evening that the delegation that heads to Karongi today to visit Niringiyimana and tour ‘his road’ today will largely be composed of technocrats, particularly engineers, who’ll assess the situation and determine how the Government will help him realise his dream of bringing a good road to his community.

In the video, the road appears to be wide enough with some steep edges, suggesting that Niringiyimana was meticulous in his work.

Located in Western Province, Karongi is one of the hilliest districts of Rwanda. 

Good road networks are critical to the development of rural communities as they do not only ease people’s movement but also connect them to markets.