Kigali housing: A worthy winner?

MOSES GAHIGI talks to Kigali residents about UN-HABITAT award

MOSES GAHIGI talks to Kigali residents about UN-HABITAT award

At the helm of the raging global financial crisis and unpleasant twists entangled in mortgages and scarce resources, Rwanda’s capital Kigali has scooped the prestigious United Nations Habitat award.

According to Kigali City Council (KCC), the award has been indeed hard earned, given the vigorous activities undertaken by the council and other stakeholders.

The Habitat Scroll of Honor is given to countries which have displayed an exceptional mark in shelter provision, development of human settlements, solving the plight of the homeless, security and general peacefulness, among other factors.

According to the KCC, the award was granted on account of proven good leadership and the quick reconstruction achieved after the Genocide.

Although Jean Batiste Niyonshuti, a merchandise dealer in Remera, didn’t know why the council won the award, after giving him the news, he was visibly impressed. He exclaimed that Kigali deserved the award.

“To be realistic, if Kigali got such an award, it deserved it given the vigorous activities and resources invested in making the city look better. It has so far achieved much as regards cleanliness and improving the roads,” said Niyonshuti.

Another city dweller Sunday Times talked to but declined to be named says that as far as security and road safety measures are concerned, Kigali is incredible.

However, he added that in its efforts to accomplish their city plans, they have displaced and disorganised the very people they are supposed to protect.

“Many people’s homes have been destroyed, and some have been taken to places they never wanted. But I think it is good to plan early to avoid chaotic situations that emerge as a resulted of poor planning.”

When Sunday Times talked to the Ombudsman, Tito Rutaremara, about the matter, he said his office is not pleased with the way Kigali City Council carried out the recent evictions.

“A total of 68 evictees were completely dissatisfied because they had expensive houses, but they had also been relocated to Batsinda, and even after the compensation they were not satisfied,” said the Ombudsman.

He also added that since his office had been part of solution, KCC should have involved them analysise the whole matter before the evictions were effected. “The evictees who were initially satisfied with the compensations and the Batsinda resettlement, are also now petitioning for compensation,” he added.

Rutaremara further noted that the undertaking of upgrading the city is a good one, but should be done carefully, following the right procedures.

“Before KCC does anything, it needs to first discuss it with the people such that they understand its prudence,” he added.

The Ombudsman hailed KCC and the country as a whole upon winning the prestigious UN-HABITAT award, underscoring that it’s out of hard work and proper planning that such an accolade comes to Rwanda.

Kigali has for a long time been the epitome of admiration, where by many visiting foreigners and those who have taken long without seeing Kigali exclaim with delight upon observing the city.