Members of the public seeking documents from the lowest local governance institutions, Cells and Sectors, in the city of Kigali are calling on the government to clarify on the issue of “unclear charges” levied on them in exchange for any services.
Several residents, who spoke to The New Times on condition of anonymity, said that they were denied services, such as documents meant to certify the acquisition of travel documents until they paid an extra amount of money.
The money, they say, is contribution for the Nine-Year and 12-Year Basic Education programmes, as well as the construction of offices.
The levies, which residents call “illegal”, are mainly cited in the three districts of Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge, where residents are required to pay between Rwf 2,000 and Rwf 5,000 in addition to other legally accepted charges for the required service.
“I went to the Cell to process documents for a temporally passport [Laissez Passer] and was told to first pay Rwf 2,000 for 9YBE then Rwf 1,000 for the construction of the cell offices,” one of the victims, who resides in Karuruma Cell, Gatsata sector in Gasabo District, said.
“It is not until I paid the money that I was offered the services I required. The government should come out and make this public; if these charges are legally accepted, it should be made clear to us’ otherwise we are being forced to pay money that we do not even have,” she added.
Another victim, who hails from Nyarutarama, said that he was denied the same services and told to first pay Rwf 5,000 for the 9YBE and 12YBE and Rwf 3,000 for the construction of a cell block.
Legally, it costs only Rwf 1,200 to acquire support documents for the passport and temporally travel document payable at the respective sector after approval by cell officials.
Other funds required in exchange of services, according to the victims, are for the Genocide Survivors Fund (FARG), health insurance and security among others.
Gasabo mayor Willy Ndizeye, however, described such funds as “illegal.”
“We don’t have such an initiative [of soliciting extra funds from residents in exchange for services]. It is illegal. Such contributions are made willingly,” Ndizeye said, calling upon residents to report such cases, “to help us trace such leaders.”
Paul Jules Ndamage, the Mayor of Kicukiro,said: “We have been telling leaders that charging people money in exchange for services is not allowed and those who will be caught will be dealt with accordingly”.
He added that such funds to support projects like 9YBE and health insurance are paid willingly “but no leader is supposed to deny residents services because they failed to contribute towards such projects”.
Cyrille Turatsinze, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, said that such directives, if they are applied anywhere, are “illegitimate and the government has never issued such directives”.
“Every government decision is made public and this is not part of it. Whoever is forcing people to pay is doing it illegally. Residents should be given required services with no condition,” Turatsinze stated.