KIGALI - The City Council (KCC) has closed nine Pentecostal churches for reportedly circumventing building construction rules. City leaders say some of the affected churches were dangerously built and not safe to house worshippers. Worshippers are lured into shack-like churches, KCC authorities claim. An anonymous source at KCC reported that on Wednesday city inspectors had started investigating why some churches were not built according to the required standards.
“The rules must be obeyed. We must protect worshippers,” Reuben Ahimbisibwe, KCC head of inspection, said last week.
He said the vetting exercise to ascertain whether all operating churches in the city meet required standards is ongoing and those found in wrong will be punished according to the law
“Many are flouting city building rules. Some don’t even have building approved plans or permanent toilets,” Ahimbisibwe said in a telephone interview.
He said the operation started a fortnight ago.
Some of the affected churches include Prayer Palace, Healing Center and Calvary Temple in Remera, Gasabo District. The Restoration Church, Kimisagara in Nyarugenge District is said to have been issued an ultimatum. The operation is also assessing the quality of construction.
“Churches,” Ahimbisibwe added, “should have approved land titles, building plans and habitation permit.”
“The building of a church without following procedures cannot be tolerated,” Ahimbisibwe warns.
KCC team headed by Mayor Dr Aisha Kirabo Kakira met over 30 pastors drawn from Nyarugenge, Kicukiro and Gasabo Districts. The mayor reportedly asked the pastors to follow the rules.
She said building rules applied to all and should not be violated.
One Christian who wished to remain nameless complained that KCC was carrying out the exercise selectively.
“There are other churches which are in a bad state but have not been closed. I think KCC can be challenged,” a Christian who also attended the pastor’s meeting said shortly after the meeting. Some pastors said their plea to KCC to give them more time to meet required standards fell on deaf ears.
Deo Ntizimira, church administrator of Restoration Church, explained: “We have latrines but they are temporary. We have flash toilets in our administrative block and we had a plan of building over ten modern latrines but it was delayed by the on going rehabilitation of the trench behind our premises.”
Contacted over the matter, Nyarugenge mayor, Oregen Rutayisire, said that the decision to close down dangerous built churches was reached in a City Council security meeting recently.
Rutayisire asked church owners to be honest, credible and straightforward.
“There are churches that are poorly constructed and cannot withstand disasters.”