KIGALI - A letter by former Minister of Local Government, Christophe Bazivamo, has called for disciplinary action against the Mayor of Kigali City, Dr. Aisa Kakira Kirabo, if it is established that there was negligence in addressing the concerns of Jabana residents about a stone quarry in Gasabo District.
The stone quarry, owned by a Chinese firm, is said to be emitting dust and smoke, hence exposing area residents to health hazards.
It was also reported that the explosives the company uses to blast the rocks was causing cracks in houses belonging to nearby residents leading to damage and loss of property worth millions of francs.
The quarry is supervised by the Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority (OGMR) and over 200 people are said to be affected.
A visit to the area revealed the rude reality. What appears to be fog from a distance is actually dust spewing from the stone crashing.
“Some reports compiled after visiting the quarry site indicated that residents had been exposed to dangers,” KCC’s Advisory Council president Titine Muberangabo told The New Times, yesterday.
The Ombudsman and Gasabo residents are said to be very upset about “the Mayor not acting as directed”.
It’s understood that on Wednesday and Thursday, Kigali City Council Advisory Council convened to discuss the Mayor’s fate.
According to Muberangabo, Bazivamo wrote to the council asking the members to take action against the Mayor.
“I don’t know what exactly awaits the Mayor but council members will have the last word on this matter,” Muberangabo explained.
Asked whether by not acting within the time requested by the Ombudsman, the Mayor erred and can be held responsible for the continued suffering of area residents, Muberangobo said “this is serious.”
“If it’s proved that there was negligence and in the process residents’ lives were put in danger, this will have serious implication on the side of the Mayor,” Muberangobo revealed.
The Mayor could not be reached for comment by press time because she was reportedly attending an emergency meeting. KCC’s spokesperson, Bruno Rangira declined to comment, saying the matter was beyond him.
The Chairman of Gasabo District Advisory Council, Francois Gakwerere, said that when the affected residents forwarded their predicament to the Ombudsman’s Office, officials went to the area to investigate, and on witnessing what was going on, convened a meeting with all the concerned parties and agreed that the problem be resolved.
But after the meeting, nothing was done, which led to the Ombudsman Office to write to Prime Minister Bernard Makuza asking him to intervene.
The Prime Minister then wrote to the Minister of Local Government and asked him to instruct KCC and Gasabo district to stop the operations of the company.
However, KCC and Gasabo authorities never acted on the orders of the Minister since the company continued to use dynamite.
This prompted the then Minister of Local Government to write to KCC’s Advisory Council asking the members to take action against the Mayor for defying his orders.
In the letter, the Minister also ordered the district authorities to put in place a committee to assess the damage the quarry had caused to the residents and to order the company to compensate the victims since it was provided for in the contract.
“We tried to tell our local authorities to help us solve this problem, but they have done nothing, yet the mining activities are continuing to have far reaching effects,” one angry resident told The New Times.
Gasabo residents accused the company of breaching its contract with the Ministry of Natural Resources by using heavy machinery.
The machines and dynamites used in crashing the stones in the Jabana quarry have led to cracks in the walls of nearby houses.
Former Gasabo mayor
The Mayor of Gasabo District, Claudine Nyinawagaga said she resigned for personal reasons. But sources now say her resignation could also be related to the Jabana stone quarry.
She is said to have also ignored the directive from the Ministry of Local Government to check stone quarry activities.
Nyinawagaga tendered in her resignation last month during an advisory council meeting which had convened to discuss rising problems in the district.