A report published early this year indicated that up to 60 per cent of respondents viewed the process of expropriation as unfair.
The survey had been commissioned by Strengthening Rwandan Administrative Justice (SRAJ) Project and conducted by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda) and the University of Massachusetts.
It covered six districts with view to shinning a light on issues that characterise expropriation in Rwanda. Indeed the process has long been marred by disputes, delayed compensations, legal battles, among others.
A significant proportion of respondents suggested the process was not clear enough, some noting they had not pursued redress or further appeals because they were unaware of the existence of a recourse mechanism or lacked information how to go about it.
This is despite the fact that a relatively comprehensive expropriation law was devised back in 2015 – although it remains ineffective is some aspects due to lack of follow-up actions such as establishment of committees to oversee expropriation at the district, City of Kigali, and national levels.
Expropriation has been a key part of Rwanda’s development trajectory for about two decades now, especially as the Government continues to put in place infrastructure necessary for accelerated growth.
As would be expected, the process to relocate people from their land – for some, a place where they were born or lived all their lives – was not always going to be straightforward.
Nonetheless, matters have been made more complicated by failure to observe the law on the part of expropriating authorities, including requirement to compensate those affected before they could move.
Now, it has emerged that some of the unsettled expropriation payments date as far back as 2012, which raises further questions on the integrity of a process that otherwise involves well-meaning intentions and projects.
The situation calls for urgent intervention from responsible authorities to streamline the process to make it fairer, and more open and transparent, and ensure it is conducted in a timely manner. That includes putting in place the requisite mechanisms, such as instituting the aforementioned supervisory committees at the central and local government levels.
Short of this and it will continue to be more difficult to execute expropriation projects, potentially delaying development projects.