Civil society calls for speedy expropriation of land claimants

At least 30 per cent of land expropriation claimants suffer delays in receiving their compensations, a new report by the Rwanda Civil Society Platform says.
Dr Kayitesi at the meeting. Nadege K. Imbabazi.
Dr Kayitesi at the meeting. Nadege K. Imbabazi.

At least 30 per cent of land expropriation claimants suffer delays in receiving their compensations, a new report by the Rwanda Civil Society Platform says.

The report was released yesterday during the civil society public policy dialogue in Kigali, an event organised to discuss identified public policy gaps and other public concerns.

The study, “Analysis of land expropriation and transfer process in Rwanda,” aimed at assessing perception on land expropriation and transfer process, its effectiveness and efficiency.

It looked at assessing the population level of satisfaction on the implementation of expropriation law and its entire process as well as analysing the bottlenecks in the land expropriation and transfer process and recommend remedial actions.

The study surveyed 449 households in 16 sectors from 12 districts across the country.

The timeliness of compensation payments in cases of land expropriation was one of the most interesting things in the study.

It showcased that in the different expropriation processes that have been taking place, only 69 percent of the people received their compensation in the time limit of 120 days as prescribed by the law, while 31 percent of the cases faced delays.

According to the study, 74.4 percent of the expropriation projects were owned by the central government, 18.8 were initiated by the local government and only 6.9 belonged to private investors.

Presenting the findings in Kigali, Eric Ndushabandi, the study team leader, said the 31 per cent is “no small number” and called on those undertaking land expropriation projects to respect the 120 days within which the law requires the exercise to be completed.

The report urges the expropriators to make adequate budget allocations for compensation to avoid delays in disbursements.

It also called for amendment in the legislation to make the penalties commensurate with the losses incurred in case of delays in compensation payments, among others.

The study found the overall satisfaction of the surveyed households with the expropriation process standing at 73 per cent.

Varying satisfaction

According to the study, the level of satisfaction varied according to the components of satisfaction with the land valuation and compensation processes having the lowest level of satisfaction, while the legal framework gave higher satisfaction level.

The study also revealed that the education level correlates with the level of satisfaction. It also showed that urban residents are more satisfied with the process than their rural counterparts. Similarly, farmers showed less satisfaction than non-farmers.

Ndushabandi said, among others, some of the reasons for the less satisfaction in the villages is because people are not well informed about their rights, including where to appeal in case they are not satisfied.

He said people also have difficulty in understanding the communal impact of certain expropriation projects, and they give much priority to their own individual benefits, a fact that also hinders satisfaction.

Commenting on the report, Dr Usta Kayitesi, the deputy chief executive of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), said expropriation programmes done by the Government are done in public interest.

“If a citizen is expropriated because of a public benefit, it does not mean that his livelihood does not have value. The leadership of Rwanda is built on giving dignity and good livelihoods for every Rwandan,” she said.

“When one is expropriated because of a public interest, it should not be done in a way that shows that the project that is going to be started has more value than them. If they are expropriated, they are facilitated to settle somewhere else. And it is important that there are follow-ups to know the situations of those expropriated.”