I congratulate you for taking the oath as the new Chief Executive Officer of my City.
This, your Worship, should not be a daunting task, given your track record as the Governor of Southern province and the experience you garnered during your tenure as the most senior civil servant in the same Council.
For the next five years, you will be referred to as “Your Worship the Mayor.” No doubt that the glorifying title has connotations behind it. It’s a manifestation of the high esteem with which people hold the office.
In other words, the title is as a sign of respect, honour, or civil reverence.
But your worship, these virtues do not come on a silver plata. They are earned. And for the next five years, we, your City dwellers, will be the judges of each and every decision you pen off.
As you know well, Kigali is one of the fastest transforming cities across our continent. Those who take years without stepping here will bear testimony. Kigali of today is not only about the clean boulevards, the magnificent street lights or welcoming smiles of our people. It’s the metropolis nature and the cosmopolitan mix that our City is taking lately.
Cosmopolitan in the sense that increasingly, people from all walks of life are settling here as their chosen home and these individuals come with divergent cultures, lifestyles, beliefs and aspirations.
Mind you, there are not necessarily foreigners alone, even Rwandans who for years considered North America, Europe, Asia or other parts of Africa as their home. They continue to trickle in day-by- day, falling in love with Rwanda’s geographical heart.
The City is expanding beyond its four geographical ridges. Today, it spans across three main districts, with new suburbs emerging in far outskirts of Butamwa, Kabuga Rusosoro, to name a few.
Therefore, the metropolis size and the increasingly cosmopolitan outlook of our city calls for strategic plans that meet a 21st century modern City. Plans that will guide the expansion and growth of this city.
One of your immediate challenges will be to implement the 50 year master plan left behind by your predecessor. It serves as guiding light in the city’s mission of making the delivery process systematic, relevant, smooth and effective.
But its implementation will not be a smooth ride. It’s likely to ruffle a few feathers especially for those rigid to change. Unfortunately there’s no way around it.
Whenever I visit some of the cities on our continent, most especially those in the neighbourhood, I clearly see why Kigali City is a beacon of hope and one of the shining stars of the continent.
The unending traffic jams characterized by polluted noise of hooting vehicles and reckless driving with no sense of order. The impassable road ----where pot-holes are deep enough to accommodate a fish pond or deep enough to swallow a trailer.
The filthy stench from overflowing sewerage systems--the blocked drainage channels or littered cabbage that leaves one choking. The multiple slums made of makeshift structures dominating the skyline. The dusty pavements turned into market stalls for vendors.
This mess, Your Worship, is what makes me pound my chest in appreciation of the City I live in.
But again, this pride could easily fade. We could easily find ourselves in these similar situations if we fail to stick to plans we have out to achieve. And believe me, the consequences will be dire.
In our plans, we seriously need a roadmap for infrastructure expansion. For example; what feeder roads are we developing in the City to supplement on the main highways, given the continuing growth of traffic?
What plans are in place for low cost housing to accommodate more people flocking to Kigali? What plans are in place to upgrade public transport to standards that meet a true metropolitan city ? Where’s our industrial Park? Where are the recreation centers?
Yes, we remain one of the safest cities on the continent, but as the city grows so does the crime rate. What contingent plans are in place to keep our City safe as the population grows?
I guess the answers for all these questions are clearly pronounced in the 50 year master plan for Kigali. The journey of implementing this ambitious plan lies on the shoulders of the new Mayor, Your Worship, Fidele Ndayisaba.
Arthur can be followed on his blog; aasiimwe.wordpress.com or on twitter @aasiimwe