Rwanda is mourning the death of over 30 people, all from the Western Province area of Rusizi, following massive earthquakes that left death and destruction in their wake. The quakes, measuring between 5 and 6 on the Richter scale according to geological experts, occurred yesterday between 9 and 11 a.m.
Acting on reports provided by local leaders, the government acted swiftly and dispatched military helicopters to the area to provide humanitarian assistance to the injured and the displaced – those whose houses had cracked and crashed.
Subsequently scores of injured people were flown from Cyangugu to every hospital that had space to accommodate them – Gihundwe, King Faisal, Kigali Central University Hospital (CHUK), Kanombe, and others.
The ministry of Health also dispatched health professionals to Rusizi, and issued call alerts to all medical personnel who were on leave or at home, to rush to their places of work to help cope with the big numbers of quake victims that were being brought in.
Some ministers also rushed to Rusizi to provide on-spot assistance and assess the damage. Minister Nyaruhirira personally participated in providing treatment to the injured victims who had been brought to King Faisal Hospital.
In the middle of a national crisis like this, it was simply beautifully instructive to watch an efficient government swing into action. Just within minutes of the first reports, government machinery had swung into preparations to move to the affected area, and helicopters were instantly dispatched with medical teams and military personnel to help evacuate people trapped in collapsed buildings.
Within the hour the first evacuees had reached Kigali hospitals – a nerve-wracking six-hour drive by road.
This government has received various accolades for being a pro-people government. This has never been so strongly shown as in this particular instance, and another when in 2006, a bus crashed in Ntungamo, Uganda, and the Rwandan government flew a helicopter to the rescue. There is no better way to show that a government is acting for the people than in such emergencies.
Such efficient response to situations should be replicated in everything we do to push this country forward. For the fast response to people facing catastrophes, and for the care, compassion and responsible actions, we thank our government.