Fidele Ndayisaba is the new mayor of Kigali City Council(KCC). Ndayisaba was voted into office after serving as Governor of Southern Province.
In this interview, the new city mayor talks to Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah of The New Times about his broad plans for the city Excerpts.
What are your key plans for the city in the next five years?
My priority plan is to implement President Paul Kagame’s seven year programme in Kigali City. He made promises to the people and it is us to implement them.
Special attention shall be paid to ensuring the security of the population and their property.
By putting in place a favourable environment for business, we shall endeavour to have a clean city that is enjoyable to the tourists and even the residents, putting in place basic infrastructure that facilitates economic growth in order to make the City of Kigali a destination of investments and also, for the first time in the history of our city, we shall develop a central sewerage system.
What difference, in terms of administration and service delivery, are we likely to see from your administration as you take office?
I wouldn’t like to go into comparison but I would like to talk about some of the issues that will guide my administration. First and foremost, our guiding principle will be transparency and availability to our people with a high level of accessibility. I will be accessible to the people maximally.
I want to promote communication between the City of Kigali, the population and other institutions. We shall use all the possible communication tools to interact and engage the people.
I shall put in place clean public finance management systems and also strive to have a clean audit. This will improve service delivery and eliminate corruption.
I shall also strive to work hand in hand with the Council of the City of Kigali and ensure that all the council resolutions are implemented.
Some residents say that your council is not adequately using scarce resources in the road construction works arguing that certain roads that are indeed in good condition are being resurfaced while in actual sense, there are more deserving parts of the city whose roads need urgent consideration.
The roads presently under rehabilitation are central and act as the main backbone of the city’s transport system. These roads have been in a very bad condition. For the last five years, the City of Kigali has been spending over Rwf 600 million on repair and refilling of potholes on these roads every year.
Therefore, in order to have an efficient transport system, it is important to have better backbone roads that facilitate access to other roads in the city. In addition, these roads will help cut on the expenditure the city has been making every year to refill the potholes.
These new roads are more durable with a lifespan of more than 20 years.
The rehabilitation of these roads was also aimed at addressing the problem of traffic jams that was common in some parts of the city.
An example is the Peage-Sopetrade road where another lane was put up and also at Kisementi, where a roundabout was constructed.
The city of Kigali is also presently constructing new roads that will help decongest the roads and also reduce traffic jams in Kigali. Construction has already started on the Gishushu-Shell (Kicukiro), Gishushu-Remera, Remera-Nyarutarama, Kibagabaga-Nyarutarama and Remera road. The Rwandex-Kicukiro Centre road is nearly complete and, all together, we have a plan to construct over 103 km of tarmac roads that will act as by-passes in the city centre and also feed into the suburbs.
We also plan to construct roads in the neighbourhoods and this will facilitate public transport penetration in different neighbourhoods instead of only operating on the main roads.
Over 60 percent of Kigali City residents still live in unplanned settlements, yet, in the world over, city governments such as your council are tasked with provision of affordable houses for its residents. The situation is not likely to get better considering that the current crop of real estate developers in Kigali are focusing on high end segments. New houses are currently retailing at over Rwf 50 Million, leaving a vast majority of Kigalians out of such offers.
First of all, I believe that having affordable housing for all the residents of our city is important as it is also underlined in the national housing policy. As the city leadership, we are seriously exploring a new concept of “low cost and high impact housing”. We are presently negotiating with different investors in the domain of low cost housing.
The City has put up basic infrastructure in some sites like Akumunigo, specifically, to facilitate the development of low cost housing. We are also, presently, looking at how we can possibly facilitate investors to put up low cost housing units in Kigali.
In relation to the above, what happened to the first ever municipal bond that was meant to address various infrastructure challenges facing Kigali City?
For the municipal bond, due to the global financial crisis, the City could not launch it as planned. But with the global economy picking up, we plan to repackage it. We are presently working with the Capital Markets Advisory Council on how to launch the bond.
When do you intend to launch this Municipal bond?On the specific time, we would first prefer to do a technical assessment exercise together with the CMAC and then, thereafter, it will be the perfect time for the launch.
Since Kigali became a city, there have been rumours about the development of its own sewerage and related plants. Now that we have a new mayor, what is the latest on this project?
First of all, a study for the central sewerage system is already in place and presently, we are reviewing plans for the system, which will be finalised in a month’s time. We are also working with the ministry of infrastructure (MININFRA) on the technical assessment of such a project. So, we are certain that the construction of the central sewerage system will begin in the next financial year 2011-2012.
We also have plans to develop a new landfill. We have started phasing out the present one in Nyanza. With funding from UNDP, we have improved the management of waste at the land fill and also protected the population around the land fill better.
It appears that the much talked about Kigali City conceptual master plan did not really take note of the unique circumstances of Kigali, if we consider that expropriation has taken place in areas such as lower Kiyovu, yet there are no ready investors. It also appears that residents still have reservations regarding the rollout of this concept going by what residents tell the media from time to time.
Let me first clarify that there is no problem of investors in the lower Kiyovu plots. We presently have some investors developing these plots. We have RAMA working on the second phase of their project; we have Caisse Sociale du Rwanda. We also have more than six investors that have expressed interest in acquiring land in the said area and are assessing their proposals.
On the issue of reaction of the population to the programme, formerly, the residents of lower Kiyovu were complaining about the expropriation. Usually people are not happy with moving and, most especially , with their sentimental attachments to some places where they’ve lived for a long time.
There are those that wanted to use the programme of moving to earn a lot of money, which was not commensurate with their property. But when you are expropriating the population, it’s important that we abide by the law and also communicate and facilitate the population in their relocation. That is why the City developed the Batsinda low cost housing. If you visit them today, they are much happier.
They live under better conditions and are certain about their livelihoods. Their property has escalated in value over five times.
I think you need more public engagement on the issue of raising more awareness about this master plan.
We are going to continue communicating to the population and even improve on our interaction and continue engaging them. The implementation of the master plan brings about a package full of opportunities to everybody, be it, the population or the investors.
There are opportunities for employment, infrastructure development and security as well as profitable projects in the real estate domain for investors.
What are the city authorities doing to address complaints arising out of issues related to transfer and allocation of land within its offices for real estate developers?
Most of these cases have been resolved and we stand to improve service delivery, which is the reason the one-stop-centre was established. The main issue appears to be a lack of communication but we are dealing with it and monitoring the process and our staff.
I am certain that these outstanding issues will be solved in due course and the results will shortly show that the situation has improved.
What are your concluding remarks?
First of all, I wish to thank the people of Kigali for their support and for having brought me into office. I am committed to working for them. I also take this opportunity to invite them to work hand in hand with me and my team from the Umudugudu level to the city level. I call upon the local leaders to serve the people.
We are dedicated to having a safe and clean city where people make clean money. Long live Rwanda, long live its leadership, long live our beloved and visionary President Paul Kagame and long live the City of Kigali.