President Paul Kagame has said that the current housing challenges in the country, especially in towns, will change for the better since his government is undertaking various activities to ensure better homes for Rwandans. He said this Saturday while appearing on Cross Fire, a live talk show on Contact F.M.
While responding to questions related to housing, the President presented a number of projects that he believes will improve the situation of Rwanda’s housing sector.
One of the talk show hosts based his questions on the fact that the country’s current construction reforms are not proportional to its electricity and water demands, while the number of houses to shelter people is also still limited.
“How can developers build residences for city dwellers while only about 40 per cent of Kigali residents have access to portable water and not enough electricity is found in the city? Do you think available projects are proportional with Kigali’s growth?” the host inquired.
“There are a lot of things that have been done and there are a lot to be done,” President Kagame responded before citing the ongoing projects.
The President also made it clear that today’s housing problems in the city were found in place when he took power and what his government is doing was trying to change the situation for the better.
He said that the government is about to complete two water schemes; one on Nyabarongo River and the other at Mutobo in Norhern Rwanda.
These, he said, will enable the city have access to portable water in a year or two. He mentioned that the country has various electricity projects like the construction of hydro-power dams and exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu.
“I hope in two or three years, the big problem of electricity will be solved,” he said, adding that the construction industry will be more vibrant with the availability of power.
The president, who was ‘crossfired’ twice on the issue of accommodation, said that government has designed city Master Plans that will be adhered to while building structures and that there is need to economize land as people build their houses.
He said that let alone towns, even in the villages people are not utilizing the land. That the population is increasing yet the land won’t.
The government also plans to enable people acquire houses by empowering the Housing Bank of Rwanda (BHR) in order to make it more responsive to housing queries.
“This has already been discussed and it has been noticed that it [BHR] needs to be more dynamic, more responsive to the needs of people. In fact, we have already taken measures in terms of looking for possibilities of having management that has better capacity,” he said, adding that international experts have been contacted to help the bank solve the housing problems.
Reacting on people’s outcry as they are forced to abandon their houses to leave land to developers, Kagame called on Rwandans to avoid sentiments during the city’s reconstruction process, explaining that all is in line with their (people’s) interests.
“Sometimes, those who are displaced are taken to better places than where they were living,” he said, explaining that sometimes sentiments abound while displacing people from town slums in order to respect construction following city Master Plans.
The President, who was at the radio programme that the Cross Fire hosts said was to ‘complete issues that he was not able to complete’ when he appeared in the station’s studios two weeks ago, responded to various questions that ranged from country leaders’ accountability, inflation rate, media development initiatives, and relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“It is always DRC side that has turned down this kind of effort,” he said, explaining that Rwanda has always been trying to re-establish its embassy in Kinshasa while DRC had always manifested no interest on improving its relationship with the country.
Kagame said there are clear indicators of developments of Rwanda’s economy and people’s welfare since he was democratically elected in 2003, but kept highlighting that a lot more is to be done in implementing available policies.
“It is work in progress. It is continuing to build capacity, strengthen institutions, hold people responsible, accountable…so that’s why for example you are aware that there are performance contracts that exist, it is a constant reminder to somebody doing work,” he underscored.