Stalled Mpazi project leaves businesses counting losses

An excavator clears debris from Mpazi drainage to enable direct flow of water into Nyabugogo River on Wednesday, April 22. The works to expand the drainage stalled after the project supervisor was found to have used fraudulent means to obtain the tender. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana

Business owners in Nyabugogo area in Nyarugenge District are appealing for authorities to manage floods caused by Mpazi drainage overflow that has sunk them into losses valued in tens of million.

The drainage collects waste and rainwater from homes in the sectors of Nyamirambo, Gitega and Kimisagara all in Nyarugenge, towards Nyabugogo.

 

It was recently clogged by too much water during the heavy rains that started last week which destroyed several homes and carried the debris all the way to the Nyabugogo valley.

 

This is not the first time this is happening, and different proposed projects have not yet delivered sustainable solution, living traders in the Nyabugogo area in a state of uncertainty.

 

Jean Baptiste Kigenza is a business operator trading beverages, food and hygienic materials in the busy Nyabugogo area.

He owns a big retail shop opposite Nyabugogo modern market which was submerged by waters from the Mpazi drainage overflow last week.

“Floods destroyed almost all my stock. I have counted a loss of over Rwf50 million in only one day. Now I remain without capital,” he told The New Times.

Kigenza opened the shop in 2013 but he explained that this is the first time he counts a loss to this magnitude.

“We would be hit by flooding, but losses were minimal; about Rwf200, 000 which was manageable for me, especially since authorities kept on assuring us that the drainage would be expanded and the flooding will stop,” he said, seemingly in a state of despair.

“Due to lack of sustainable management of rainwater and waste water from the sectors surrounding the drainage, we are facing the worst flooding ever,” he said.

From his business alone, floods washed away food stock and beverages, cold rooms, fridges, laptops, his car among other valuable properties.

“I have only salvaged very little merchandise. I want to sell out all I have left and suspend the business until we get a sustainable solution to this flooding,” he said.

Business operators in Nyabugogo are calling upon the City of Kigali to prioritize control of flooding caused by Mpazi drainage despite the ongoing lockdown.

“We ask the city to quickly address this issue of flooding. Mpazi drainage need to be expanded because it can no longer accommodate the water from all the homes in the three sectors,” he said.

Kigenza said that he had not insured his business because insurance companies feared the risk attached to the flood prone-area.

“I was also about to pay income tax of Rwf1.4 million for 2019 but I can’t get the money now. I had acquired a loan from bank, and I am now in dilemma,” he said, urging the tax body to look at the possibility of exempting him.

The floods also submerged nearby Nyabugogo modern market, banks, offices, petrol stations and destroyed big part of the road.

Rosine Uwamariya selling fruits in the market said that most of the merchandise was carried away.

“We have shifted to the other side of the market that was not affected,” she said.

Fraudulent firm stalls project

Speaking to the New Times, Ernest Nsabimana, the Vice Mayor in charge of Urbanization and Infrastructure at City of Kigali said that the implementation of the Rwf2.5 billion project to control floods in Nyabugogo delayed when authorities realized that the company contracted to supervise the works had acquired the tender fraudulently, hence terminating it.

“The delays in the project were caused by the termination of deal we had with the company. The procurement authority realized that the company had fraudulent won the tender.

So the works would not be conducted without a supervising company. We had to look for another company. As speak, we got another supervising company this week,” he explained.

He said that the way forward is to request authorities in charge to consider the project essential and therefore allow the works to begin even amidst the current lockdown.

Meanwhile he advised business owners to relocate their operations to safer buildings in the city and also urged them to insure their businesses to cushion them against losses in case of disasters.

Funded by Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA), the Mpazi project will improve the resilience of the Nyabugogo area to flooding by enhancing the hydraulic conveyance capacity of Mpazi channel and Nyabugogo River.

It will have a flood monitoring system as well as monitoring water flow within the Nyabugogo floodplain.

Under the project design, Mpazi drainage channel will be expanded while two major bridges will be widened as well to enable direct flow of drainage water into Nyabugogo River.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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