The story goes that during colonial times, just before independence, the Belgians left a blue print of the future Kigali.
Kiyovu, Biryogo and parts of Kicukiro and Gikondo are the only places that have vestiges of proper demarcated plots. But that all died in the blueprints in the planning ministry after independence.
The new caretakers disregarded plans and let the city trace its own route. Houses were built anyhow, anywhere.
Road reserves were prime property that today it can be a nightmare if the city wanted to expand its streets to accommodate the rising urban population.
The new Kigali City Master Plan will require extensive resources as old neighbourhoods will have to give way to conform to the new concept. The biggest headache facing city planners is how to manage sewage and waste water.
With every household forced to have at least two pits in the compound. One for solid waste and the other for water, it takes acrobatic feats to manage them, especially when they need to be emptied but access becomes impossible because of poor planning.
The city has, for the last few years, been mulling a comprehensive sewage management system, complete with a treatment plant. But the plans have failed to take off, maybe because it is a casse tête (a real headache).
But whatever solution the city planners have in mind, there should be a sense of urgency. With hilly Kigali sitting on tens of thousands of “heavy pits”, as some comedian said, it might just “sink”.