NYAGATARE - Deaths by crocodile attacks in Nyagatare district, along the crocodile infested Akagera River have compelled government to rush to the rescue of worried area residents, The New Times has learnt.
This comes after 14 year old Stella Mutesi, the latest victim was killed by a crocodile about a month ago while she was drawing water from the river.
Rosette Rugamba, Rwanda Development Board’s Deputy CEO in Charge of Tourism and Conservation, acknowledged the regrettable incident on Sunday explaining what is being done to prevent other such nasty deaths.
Even though plans are underway to fence off the park so as to check human - wildlife conflicts, Rugamba underlined that in this particular case water scarcity is the challenge, which is going to be hastily addressed, “at the national level.” Safe water sources are said to be scarce in the area, leaving the residents with one alternative, albeit a deadly one – Akagera River.
“We regret the incident! It is an accident that happened and we are not distancing ourselves from it.
What we are going to do, together with the ministry of lands, is address the water issue,” Rugamba said, noting that : “the location of where the incident happened is about 20 kilometres from the park.”
“In September, we went to the field with a delegation of ministers to look at how human-wildlife conflict can be minimised.”
“As revealed, fencing can reduce the problem but it is not enough and a high-level task force within the Prime Minister’s office has set up a committee to look at the issue as a national one,” explained Rugamba.
Rugamba says a research study on where to erect boreholes in the communities has been concluded, by the ministry in charge of lands.
“The study has actually been done and finished, showing various points where the community can get water from without getting near the river. This issue is being addressed at a national level.”
Meanwhile, as the late Mutesi’s parents and residents of Rutunga village in Rwempasha sector paid respect to the deceased last Thursday, they called upon the government to come to their rescue.
Antonia Kampinga, the deceased’s grief stricken grandmother appealed to government for safety assurances, while a sorrowful James Nkusi the late Mutesi’s father, placed the blame on local leaders in the area.
“I blame the Eastern Province leadership for ignoring our request as farmers who are Rwandans! Our local leadership informed them about this problem on several occasions but northing was done. The only thing they know is to misuse public funds, nothing else,” Nkusi said.
An area local leader Hellene Metegarugori reiterated the community’s discontent and appealed to government for safe clean water so as to save lives.
“The situation is worrying. Government should help us get boreholes in our village so that people stop moving down the valley where there are dangerous animals. This could be the only remedy,” Metegarugori said.