MAINSTORY: Life after eviction as Kigali rises from the ashes

“Unless your home is in line with Vision 2020, it’s not going to be your home for long,” says Jean Claude Murekezi, who was recently evicted from Kiyovu in Ubumwe Cell and has now relocated to Nyamirambo.
Tumbling down: Kiyovu of the Poor to be no more
Tumbling down: Kiyovu of the Poor to be no more

“Unless your home is in line with Vision 2020, it’s not going to be your home for long,” says Jean Claude Murekezi, who was recently evicted from Kiyovu in Ubumwe Cell and has now relocated to Nyamirambo.

Kigali City Council relocated people from what is commonly known as Kiyovu of the Poor to Batsinda housing estates that was built as an alternative location for the evicted people.

However, some of the evictees says they were not happy with the alternative and opted to try their luck elsewhere.

According to an interview conducted by The New Times late last month with Kigali City Council, 64 families were evicted from Ubumwe cell to give way to the ongoing Kigali city policy of urban structures that are in line with Vision 2020.

Kigali is growing fast and is quickly gaining a new face. Dirt tracks are being paved and ramshackle huts are being replaced with sophisticated housing.

The city council has come up with a policy to build the city to the standards of other big cities around the world.

One such example is the Gacuriro 2020 estates. Old residents were compensated to move from the area and Gacuriro was developed into an estate with housing that most people have admired, making it a location synonymous with better living environment.

While residents tended to understand why they have been moved, many miss their old homes.

Murekezi, a father of seven, says that life after eviction is not easy.

“I have been living here for so many years. I had never thought that one day I would leave my home. There are so many challenges caused by this move,” he says.

“We couldn’t manage to get a house that could accommodate us all. My wife went in the village together with my two children and two grand children,” says Murekezi.

At the same time, Murekezi says he recognises the importance of the development.

“We are happy our city is developing as far as infrastructure is concerned. We need to see more buildings and housing replace the ones that are sub standard,” he says.

“The relocation is the sacrifice to be made for the future generation,” added Murekezi.

Other evicted residents face different problems.
Mukamana Eugenia now also living in Nyamirambo says that her worry is her children who go to school.

“My children will face a big challenge especially those who are in candidate classes. Of course every one needs to see his or her country develop and especially the infrastructure sector. We are very proud when passing through our good roads that are exemplary in the whole of Africa,” says Eugenia.

She says some of her neighbors ended up sleeping at their friends’ house or sometimes had to leave Kigali.

“Tractors came at around 3:00pm to demolish the place. We had been given plenty of warning but some of the people did not take it very seriously,” she says.

Mukamana people started to sell their belongings at a very cheap price. For example if one had to go upcountry he could find that transporting the items is a bit expensive than selling them and buying new ones later.

Mukamana says that some of her property was stolen before she opted to sell what she was left with.
Businesses around was not left untouched when the demolition happened.

Muhire Joseph who runs a grocery store says that earlier he could not rest for a minute because his store was so busy. Now he says he does not get more than ten customers a day. 

“I used to sell a lot before the eviction but now I get a quarter of what I used to get. Sometimes in a day I may fail to see a customer when I actually could not sit before the eviction. I do not know what the future holds for me,” he says.

However in an interview conducted with The New Times late last month, the Mayor of Kigali city, Aisha Kirabo, said it was made clear from July last year that people living in Ubumwe cell were going to be shifted because of the unfavorable conditions under which they were living.

Kirabo says that people lacked basics like water and electricity and were given an alternative to shift to the newly built houses of Batsinda which had the basics.

She further said that however painful the whole process was, it is a positive change and should be welcomed.

tumusteve2008@yahoo.com

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