KARONGI- Rwanda Information Office (ORINFOR) on Monday switched off a community radio station in Karongi District because of alleged delay in acquiring equipment to support the modern digital transmission technology.
Isangano Radio belongs to a group of Karongi residents organised under Isangano Association.
The radio first hit the air waves in May 2011. However, its digital technology is now alleged to interfere with the broadcast frequencies of other community radio stations that are mostly analogue-based, especially in Rusizi District.
Isangano Radio uses the public broadcaster’s masts to air its programmes.
The unilateral decision has sparked angry reactions from both residents and local leaders.
“The action of instantly switching off the radio without prior notice is completely wrong and unacceptable. It’s clearly not in line with the MoU between us and ORINFOR,” Jerome Rwasa, the radio station’s director bemoaned.
“This has compromised our business because had we been told earlier, we would have informed our listeners in advance”.
He insisted that his team was not given adequate time, claiming that the national broadcaster was clearly aware that Isangano had purchased the equipment from Italy two weeks ago, though they were yet to arrive in the country.
An agreement to allow Isangano Radio to install a transmitter on ORINFOR’s broadcasting antenna at Karongi hill in Kibuye town, provides for amicable means in case a dispute develops between the parties.
Rwasa however, argues this has been disregarded and that his own attempts through emails and telephone calls have been ignored on several occasions.
Unconfirmed reports say that the top management at ORINFOR is under pressure to ensure that all its subsidiary upcountry community radio stations are in good working condition ahead of tomorrow’s annual National Dialogue in Kigali.
District Mayor, Bernard Kayumba was also angered by the decision to close the community radio without any prior consultations.
When contacted, Regis Gatariyaha, the Director General of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency, said he was aware of the problem.
“They have sent us a communication to that effect and we are working hard to get it resolved. It’s a technical problem and we have dispatched a joint team to help solve the problem as soon as possible,” Gatarayiha said.
Efforts to reach ORINFOR’s Director General, Willy Rukundo, for a comment were futile by press time as his cell phone was switched off.