Kigali city is setting standards of a millennium city via a master plan with prices of land and houses shooting up so much that the average Rwandan cannot afford.
What this means is that if one bought a plot of land cheaply a few years ago, the same property has gone up three fold or even more and some residents have opted for the remotest neighbourhoods where they can easily acquire cheaper land or houses.
In buying the cheaper land, these residents anticipate that in the future, the city will bring infrastructure like tarmac roads, water and electricity closer to their property, and in turn, increase its value. Having seen Kigali over decades, some residents narrate that this city is growing at breakneck speed with magnificent houses occupying lands that in last few years were hosting forests and wild animals.
Aimable Mugabo, who lived in Nyamirambo at Mumena then known as Camp Belge in 1980, recalls that then houses were made of mud and wattle and later, from adobe bricks, three materials you cannot go for, if you needed a construction permit in Kigali City today.
“At that time, there was no construction permit required. All you needed was a simple document standing for a land title from the commune (district), and that’s it,” said Mugabo who constructed his house at Kabeza, then Kanombe commune, on a land he bought at Rwf19,000 in 1987.
Then, the taxi driver recalls, a plot of land at Kisimenti, Remera was obtained at Rwf100,000 and that the land was still virgin with arable farm and banana plantations.
Today, a plot of land in Kisimenti, the new home to supermarkets, banks and telecommunication companies with a road to both the Kigali International Airport and Amahoro Stadium goes for hundreds of millions.
Jean Damascène Ngurinzira, a broker from Kisimenti testifies, “I am selling a plot near Chez Lando Hotel at Rwf200 million. The plot measures 50 over 50 meters.”
With this money, one can get 20 medium sized plots (25/30meters) at Rfw10m each in Zindiro, Kimironko in Gasabo district.
Land brokers also say one can find plots of between Rwf25m to Rwf70m on the main road to Kimironko Prison and Rwf 10m to Rwf15m at Zindiro.
Other expensive neighborhoods are Nyarutarama with plots going for around Rwf45m, Kibagabaga where a plot costs between Rwf15m and Rwf30m and Kagarama for about Rwf15m.
But only few people are interested in those expensive plots since Kigali City Council will require them to build bigger and more expensive houses after the launch of a Kigali City Master plan late last year.
The plan, whose first draft was inaugurated on November 26 last year, was designed by a Singaporean urban planning company SNE Surbana.
It has designed, among others, a central business hub in Nyarugenge-Muhima and Kimicanga in Gasabo district and commercial tourism and recreation facilities in Kimihurura.
The plan designates Rebero for medium-high range housing and a mixture of other infrastructures in Gasabo and Kicukiro where multi floor apartments are the most encouraged as residential houses.
The City of Kigali wants the 50 year projection master plan be implemented immediately.
While talking to the board of entrepreneurs and architectures in Kigali, last week, Fidèle Ndayisaba, the mayor of Kigali City urged them to focus on the capital.
“You have seen that foreign investors coming in are not looking at any other town, but Kigali and we have to build it,” he said.
This could also be the reason why some residents are acquiring enough land for less in the suburbs with the hope that they can sell and fetch much in future.
In June, last year, a civil servant who spoke under condition of anonymity, acquired two plots in Busanza, Kanombe sector, Kicukiro district on the Nyaborongo bank at Rwf3m for both. Now he wants to sell for double the initial amount sum.
Other areas which are now attracting people are Rusororo in Gasabo district, where a plot goes for between Rwf2m and Rwf4m. In Gahanga, Kicukiro district the price of a medium plot goes for between Rwf2m and Rwf5m or Rwf1m in Karembure cell.
“It’s a common that people will always seek new land for different activities,” says Emmanuel Rutubuka, the executive secretary of Mageragere sector in Nyarugenge district.
Rutubuka says a plot in his sector costs between Rwf800,000 and Rwf1m and the master plan has designed this part for hotels, industries, farming and housing.
Kigali City warns
According to specialists in urbanization and civil engineering, such speculation calls for a vigilant eye by the government because they have a negative impact on the city planning.
Eudes Kayumba, the chairman of the board of Rwandan engineers and architects and managing director of Landmark Studio, a company dealing with architecture, land and property said some people just acquire huge chunks of land on which they build indecent houses, obliging an investor or buyer to pay a lot of money.
But Lilian Mupende, Director of Urban Planning at KCC, believes people are free to determine prices of their plots.
However, she warned the public against going for plots without referring on the master plan.
“Someone looks at a plot and decides to spend a lot without knowing what’s on the master plan. They can be deceived if they come for building permits and they find for example, that their plot is designed for a garden,” she told The New Times in an interview recently.
That is the same advice she offered those who opt for cheaper plots that seemingly lack roads, water and electricity.
“What if you buy a plot and you find the road is meant to pass in the middle?” she asked.