For the last one week I have enjoyed Rwanda Television programmes focusing on rural development in the Eastern Province. The camera takes you there and as the people talk about their environment, successes and problems you have fair perception of the situation.
I will single out the Katabagema Sector whose coverage focused on agriculture. The viewer was shown stores of maize full to capacity. The good news was that we are on the way to sustainable food security.
The farmers are aware of the importance of consolidated single crop cultivation in ensuring food security and they said it. They even appreciate assistance from MINAGRI extension workers but the bad news is that they lack sufficient market for their produce.
I agree with the farmer who said that after, his labour he expects profit from his investment. I am confident Hon. Agnes Kalibata will look into the matter ( I understand MINAGRI has a program to address the marketing problem).
Maize `is such an important cereal that it has to be promoted instead of the traditional sorghum, which unfortunately fetches more money on the market. One resident advised his colleagues not sell their maize at a throw away price of 60frw per kilo but store it until the price picks up.This, however, is difficult to a peasant whose only source of income is agriculture.
Coming back to the city, on Monday RTV showed a bridge that broke down in Kimisagara sector, a Kigali City suburb. The bridge which links Kimisagara and Kamuhoza collapsed six months ago and nothing has been done to alleviate the inconveniencies caused to residents of either side of the bridge.
The residents have to do with a makeshift bridge which can’t be used by vehicles or motorbikes. You could see people carrying crates of beer and other merchandise on their heads. This, as one trader said has led to price increase, and yet because of inaccessibility of the area, rents for commercial and residential buildings have dropped.
One young mother who seemed incensed by government laxity said her small child crosses the temporary bridge everyday to nursery school and abhors the likely hood of her child slipping off.
The bridge which was constructed only three years ago at a cost of five million francs (5 m), should not take half a year to rebuild. The Kimisagara local administrator Mr. Masengesho was not convincing when he said that the problem was being addressed with a view to having a lasting solution but was not sure when the solution to suffering taxpayers will be found.
This is bureaucracy at its best. What other solution is he talking about? The solution, simply, is building a strong permanent bridge and finding ways of stemming soil erosion which must have contributed to the collapse of the bridge.
If the City Council is mindful of the residents, its department responsible for infrastructure should engage it engineers to design and rebuild the bridge. From what I saw it does not require a big budget. It only requires a good engineer to avoid shoddy work that often results in unnecessary mishaps.
Recently RTV showed an unfortunate accident in which three people died after a tree by the roadside fell on a taxi at Gishushu near National Parliament. Such incidents could be reduced if people responsible were more diligent instead of waiting for disasters to swing into action.
I am not conversant with the sources of the city council revenue, but I suppose tax collection constitute the bulk of the city budget and as such taxpayers’ interest should be paramount.
I wish here to propose another source of revenue that would not only serve interests of city dwellers but also ensure steady revenue for the city council and other urban councils. I am aware that some people will be opposed to the idea of the city councils putting up blocks of residential rental flats.
The argument that in the era of liberalization, private developers should be left to cater for accommodation needs of residents sounds plausible but it does not always work. Private developers in Kigali seem to be targeting the well- to- do classes. City councils worldwide own residential buildings and it works well as all categories of people are catered for. Kigali should venture in similar projects.
Kigali city councils owns land in prime areas like Lower Kiyovu, previously known as Kiyovu c y’abakene, where a number of blocks could be built to accommodate , one bedroom bedseaters, two bedroom flats and three bed roomed flats, equipped with modern facilities.
At a price of 50.000 frw, 100.000 frw and 150.000 frw respectively per month, the council would show the way for other developers to emulate and cater for diverse categories of Kigali residents.
I am imagining blocks of 14 flats each able to fetch 2700 USD every month. Most financing agencies would certainly be willing to finance such ventures. Where such buildings are located, the council would then provide other infrastructure and facilities like sports fields, social halls and shopping malls.
That way the council will demonstrate that you can save space by putting up comfortable storey residential houses and make profit in the long run.
I finally wish to convey my gratitude to RTV for the instructive programmes, but remind them to cater for film lovers. Get us a variety of movies and consider reality shows and the soap operas.