Local leaders and residents who will be affected by the construction of a 90MW hydro-power plant at Rusumo Falls, have pleaded with consultants working on the feasibility studies to share their findings to keep them informed and primed for possible displacement.
The leaders and residents made the plea during a meeting with members of The Nile Media Network-Rwanda Chapter, during a familiarisation field trip.
“There are studies that were carried out before, and there are those that are still going on. We need the consultants to share with us the findings of these studies to prepare our people,” petitioned Francis Bushaija, the Executive Secretary of Murama Sector, Ngoma District.
He added that there was need for local authorities to understand the criteria for awarding the 4,000 jobs that will be created when construction begins as well as the compensation plan for those to be relocated.
“We are very enthusiastic about this project. We are not facing any resistance at all; instead, people are asking for more details, but all we tell them is that studies are on going on,” he said.
The final studies on the project are expected by June although several consultants have previously conducted preliminary studies.
The Land Officer in Kirehe District said that concerned authorities should inform the public the exact areas to be affected by the construction of the dam so that local leaders can prepare the population.
Due to lack of details on the project, a recent flooding in the Akagera River marshland was misconceived by residents who thought the construction of the dam had commenced.
“The marshland flooded, residents came to me asking why I had not informed them that the project had began,” Kennedy Mutabazi, the Executive Secretary of Gashanda Sector, explained.
Joseph Nsabimana, an official from the Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project (KWAMP), said he had worked with a number of consultants on the Rusumo Hydro-Power project and found it essential to share findings with the local authorities.
“There are 4,000 jobs that will be created when the project starts, but what will happen when the construction is complete? There should be a plan for these people, and it’s upon the local authorities to do the planning,” stated Nsabimana.
The Executive Secretary of Mutenderi Sector, Japhet Musiri, said ground work had started and that so far, the health centre is being expanded while a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centre will be put up.
“Basically, a lot is happening. People in my sector are excited; there is a lot we are going to benefit from this project,” Musiri added.
Speaking to The New Times, the vice president of CORIMI, a local farmers cooperative in Ngoma District, requested that a clear plan be drawn to facilitate people who have been earning a living on the part of the marshland that will covered by water when the project kicks off.
The Rusumo dam and power station will be situated at the Rusumo Falls where the Kagera River forms the boundary between Tanzania and Rwanda, and about two kilometres downstream of the river’s confluence with Ruvubu River
The project is envisaged to equally distribute, the 90MW to be produced, to Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
The proposal to construct a power plant on Rusumo Falls was first conceived in 1970s but was never realised.
Part of the construction phase includes; a power house with three turbines equipped with generators, a lake reservoir storage and a two-lane road on top of the dam.
To pave way for the project, as many as 3,225 households are expected to be expropriated from the Rwandan side of the border and US$60 million set aside for the expropriation and resettlement exercise.