Huye families given relocation deadline

Authorities in Huye District have issued a directive to 44 households and business owners in Rwabuye neighbourhood on the outskirts of Huye town to relocate to safer areas.
Some of structures built in a marshland in Huye. The New Times/ JP Bucyensenge.
Some of structures built in a marshland in Huye. The New Times/ JP Bucyensenge.

Authorities in Huye District have issued a directive to 44 households and business owners in Rwabuye neighbourhood on the outskirts of Huye town to relocate to safer areas.

The decision, which has been backed by the District Advisory Council, gives residents until the end of the month to relocate.

The area, adjacent Rwabuye marshland, is prone to floods, Mayor Eugene Muzuka said.

He said the district has ruled out the possibility of compensating the residents, saying it’s for their safety from disasters that they are being asked to move.

“They have settled in a marshland, which is naturally not suitable for habitation,” Muzuka said. “In addition, some businesses that use electricity, such us grinding mills, expose the locals to extreme risks of accidents in case of floods.”

However, he said the district will assist the most vulnerable residents to get new homes, while those in the ‘middle class’ will be given plots to start afresh. The rest are on their own.

Sources said concerned individuals in the area have been given relocation notices and that the affected and most vulnerable are likely to be moved to Tonga, in Ngoma Sector.

Worries

However, some residents said they will not relocate without compensation.

Joas Rutangana, a resident, said he is worried of relocating without consideration of his property.

“If they decide to enforce the directive, it means they will have decided to ignore our rights [to these properties] and we will then become homeless,” Rutangana said.

Leonard Mutambuka, another resident, said they were not consulted.

Mutambuka said he is worried to lose a house he acquired in a government auction 13 years ago. Before, Mutambuka said,  the house belonged to Mbazi commune, which was later merged with other neighbouring areas to form the current Huye District.

“Why did they sell us houses built in wrong areas?” Mutambuka asked.

Current figures indicate that more than 6,700 of the 19,000 families that lived in areas designated as high risk zones in Southern Province  have been relocated to safer areas.

A survey conducted last year indicated that floods and landslides were the major disasters in the country and have greatly impacted negatively on human development, property, infrastructure and environment.

The government has been encouraging residents living in areas identified as disaster-prone to relocate to safer zones.