There is an allegory of a naked man, people laughed at his nakedness and pointed at him everywhere he went. He then snatched a piece of clothing drying on the line, he ran to the nearest corner and put it on, only it was a dress.
It covered his nakedness but now people were laughing for a different reason, so he was back to square one. We must dispel the myth that anyone mixing cement, sand and water is building our nation, sometimes construction is detrimental to our development if not carried out in a planned manner.
In our quest to develop our nation, some have mistaken building to be an ideology and never think of it as the methodology. So any new building is good, regardless of whether it fulfills the functions or quality required.
I am impressed by the new tower rising up in the Rubangura area, it is going to set a new benchmark in construction quality but one that will hopefully be emulated.
However, around town I see so many buildings that fulfill neither form nor function.
I see replication, replication, replication, where bad investments are made, many others copy.
So you have 10 hotels in a small area with around 10 rooms each. Why don’t they combine?
Waiting for Rwandans to become exposed and raise their game will take too long and will cost too much money in many more bad investments. The credit freeze after the global downturn was in some ways a blessing as it stopped the debt cycle, it brought common sense back to a very bullish market.
Now, in an effort to stimulate the economy, the government is encouraging banks to open their checkbooks and give out loans.
This is a good policy only if it is carried out in a planned manner, and in a manner that fulfills the Vision 2020 and Kigali master plan.
The firm hand of planning is going to have to guide misguided Rwandans to stop wasting money.
It has to encourage complementation over competition, when you get a hotel built somewhere, instead of another hotel next door put a restaurant, a laundry shop, a souvenir shop, an internet café, something to compliment and develop a sector.
We have very poorly developed amenities, it is hard to find food between 3-7pm, only one place sells cash power in Kigali after 11pm, no thought is put into City council signposts that block driver’s views on a corner.
When I look around town, I wonder how many buildings are inspected for safety before tenants are allowed in. I wonder why every staircase in Kigali is crooked with the steps uneven like it was made by a drunkard.
I wonder why any Rwandan just adds any number of floors on top of their house. So many of the buildings we were once proud of are already fit for demolition and are worth less than the plots they sit on.
Let us take a step back and think before we build, because sometimes you can destroy your country with unplanned substandard building.