Nyagatare authorities, residents, in land row

NYAGATARE-31 families in Nyagatare Sector, Nyagatare District are embroiled in a row with the district authorities over what they termed as ‘unlawful evictions’.In 2007, the district donated land belonging to neighbouring families for the expansion of Umutara Polytechnic University.

NYAGATARE-31 families in Nyagatare Sector, Nyagatare District are embroiled in a row with the district authorities over what they termed as ‘unlawful evictions’.

In 2007, the district donated land belonging to neighbouring families for the expansion of Umutara Polytechnic University.

Following a series of meetings between the university, residents and the district authorities, the district hired land surveyors and later directed the university to compensate the families for their land.

While some families accepted the offers from the university, others rejected the cash settlement on the basis that it was not worth the value of theirland.

According to the university authorities, 22 families were paid Rwf 17.2 million

“Each family here owns over three hectares of land, and according to the district town master plan; a hectare of land in Nyagatare town is worth 1.5million. We were given very little money … that’s why some of us rejected it,” one of the victims, Felicien Zigirinshuti, lamented.

According to Zigirinshuti, none of the affected families received at least Rwf 1million for three hectares.

“They said they would give each family member one hectare of land outside Nyagatare town”.

Odeth Iyakaremye, another resident who turned down the compensation, said that they could not stop projects of public interest, however, she observed that the university and the district should adhere by the eviction procedures in a fair manner.

“The university is a developmental asset to the entire community here. Our problem is not being evicted, but the process should go in accordance with the law,” she said.

Speaking to The New Times, the Estates Manager at the Umutara Polytechnic University, Emery Mbuguje, said that the university paid the residents after the offer agreed upon with the district authorities.

“We first consulted the district and asked them to value each family’s land and those (residents) who accepted the offer took the money. We are in contact with the district to ensure that those who rejected the offer can be paid accordingly.

We don’t have any problem as long as the district and residents come to an agreement,” he said.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, the district’s Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development, Stanley Muganwa, said that the district used its land valuers to cost the land before setting prices for each parcel of land.

“We call upon those residents who rejected the eviction to bring their own land valuers to value their land before they are evicted. We shall also direct the university to pay them accordingly,” he said.

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