The City of Kigali unveiled an online system to ease the process of acquiring construction permits in May last year. The online Construction Permit Management Information System was touted as an innovation that would cut bureaucracy, boost efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business by city authorities.
So, how has it performed over a year later?
According Eng. Fred Rwihunda, the managing director of RFM Engineering, a construction firm, the initiative has greatly eased the process of acquiring a construction and subsequent permits needed before a building is cleared for occupancy. “It has also increased access to information developers need to process their permit applications,” he said.
Emmanuel Nyamurangwa, the in-charge of administration and customer care at One Stop Centre, said the portal has made the process more transparent and efficient, which he said had enabled the issuance of more permits in record time.
Statistics obtained by Business Times indicate that more people are now securing construction permits than never before. Also the cost and time of acquiring a construction permit have reduced, Nyamurangwa told Business Times in an interview last week.
Nyamurangwa said over 177 construction permits have been issued via the online Construction Permit Management Information System. “The number could reach 270 permits issued by end of the year,” he added.
Complaints abound, but are they genuine?
There have been complaints from a cross-section of developers claiming that the construction sector reforms introduced by the city authorities have had no impact, with some saying the process of getting a construction permit is still bureaucratic.
However, Nyamurangwa said the system has greatly reduced the cost of doing business in the construction sector in the city.
“It has boosted transparency and helped reduce the cost of obtaining construction permits. We are confident that more people will embrace the reforms,” Nyamurangwa noted.
With the initiative, architects apply for construction permits from the comfort of their homes, offices and cyber cafes using the Internet. They also submit all the necessary documents and check their application progress online. The electronic permitting portal allows developers to carry out all permit-related activities online, from application submission to delivery.
Nyamurangwa also noted that the One Stop Centre that manages the portal; www.kcps.gov.rw, also offers merged services, including construction permit application, environmental impact assessment, as well as electricity, telephone and water connection application.
“We have also merged services when one is applying for an occupation permit for a building with a freehold title. All this is aimed at promoting efficiency and reducing the cost of doing business in the city,” noted Nyamurangwa.
However, some contractors said it takes long for the administrators to respond to queries from users, noting that it sometimes creates delays.
Why your construction permit might delay
Nyamurangwa blamed the delays that sometimes occur on developers who employ incompetent architects and engineers, saying if one doesn’t submit all th requirements, there will obviously be delays.
“It’s not exactly true that the issuance of construction permits delays. Developers who do not follow guidelines or those that hire incompetent professionals obviously face challenges. It’s within our mandate to uphold quality at all times, so we can’t bend the rules for anybody.”
Nyamurangwa said those who fulfill all the requirements and submit detailed designs “through our electronic portal, a construction permit is issued within 25 days”.
Construction sector reforms made by city authorities
According to Merard Mpabwa, the in charge of investment promotion and doing business at City of Kigali, the city authority has reduced procedures, noting that it now takes four steps compared to 13 steps previously.
The cost of acquiring permits has also dropped between Rwf20,000 and Rwf60,000.
Those seeking authorisation to repair houses or build fences around their premises are expected to pay a fee of Rwf5,000 (for the City of Kigali residents) and Rwf1,200, for those living outside the city.
The City of Kigali recently signed a deal with telecoms to enable Rwandans pay for permits using mobile money.