Even after the City of Kigali recently reprimanded some hotels for polluting the environment by discharging untreated waste, new cases of environmental abuses by hotels have emerged.
The City of Kigali is keeping an eye on hotels so that they comply with rules and regulations of hygiene and environment, but in most cases the management of waste remains an issue.
Some people residing near hotels complain of waste that they say is not only harmful to their health, but also impedes businesses, especially those dealing in food and drinks.
Sports View Hotel in Remera Sector, Gasabo District has been accused by neighbours of pollution. Built in the middle of a busy area with business such as bars, eateries, butcheries and milk shops, the hotel discharges waste through a relatively small channel that releases its content into a ravine that crosses the newly constructed road, RDB-Control Technique.
At that point of the ravine that also runs through Kagara village, waste water retained by solid garbage from residences can be seen. Apparently, the domestic waste is from the residences whose owners fail to pay cleaning companies that collect waste from door to door.
This ravine ejects its contents to Kagara stream in the marshland, where children from Nyabisindu cell enjoy swimming.
Neighbours accuse Sports View Hotel of being the source of the dirty water.
A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “This week, probably on Tuesday, we felt the same nauseating smell of waste water discharged from the hotel. You can see the milk shop up there; when the hotel discharges the waste, no one buys milk there anymore,” she said.
The resident, who is aware that some hotels, including Alpha Palace and La Palisse Nyandungu, were recently reprimanded over the same issue, added that: “We have always been complaining about this, but the hotel cannot hear us. It seems local authorities are also not doing their work”.
However, one neighbour who requested anonymity dismissed the complaints saying they had been addressed.
“We have not been seeing the waste for some time now. It seems the local authorities warned the hotel,” he said, but some local authorities disagree, saying they were victims as well.
Nadine Ingabire, a sector council member who has a business near the water channel said waste water was released even this week.
“We always report the issue and the sector authorities are aware, but the hotel is not heeding.”
Neighbors are wrong
Sport View Hotel manager, Vincent Ntirenganya dismissed allegations of discharge the waste in the neighborhood, saying the hotel has a functioning water treatment plant.
“We had that challenge in August last year, but we fixed it and since then, we have had no issue with the waste,” he said.
At that time, said Ntirenganya, we heard the complaints of the neighbors, who had even called the local authorities. We managed to bring in equipmentthat helps us deal with the waste.”
Felix Kayihura, the Executive Secretary of Remera Sector, said that while there was indeed a problem of waste treatment, he was aware that it had been fixed.
“We were called to assess the problem in October last year, and I think the hotel managed to fix it, only that they had small space to manage the waste. They were advised to expand because sometimes the waste would overflow and run into the external water channel,” Kayihura said.
According to the hotel manager, the treatment plant transforms the solid waste from the toilets and kitchen into clean water that is used for gardening purposes, allowing no water to escape.
“I suspect that the neighbors felt the smell of the waste when we were empting the toilets septic tanks because that smell affects the neighborhood,” Ntirenganya said.
According to John Mugabo, the in charge of hygiene and environment protection at the City of Kigali, some hotels were built at a time when the city paid little attention to issues of waste treatment.
It is now a requirement for new developers to have this infrastructure as they apply for a construction permit.
Mugabo said, Sports View Hotel also acquired a good system and that he was surprised there were new complaints. He said most hotels can have the treatment plants, but some scenarios can lead to their poor management.
First of all, he said, the hotel can entrust the work to technicians who may not have skills to manage them, ending up skipping some stages in waste treatment. In other cases, he said, waste treatment machines may be shutdown if hotel owners consider that they consume a lot of energy.
“This is not applicable to our hotel; after all, the machine does not consume more energy than the kitchen or the laundry machines,” said Ntirenganya.
Mugabo however was speaking from experience. In November last year, his team reprimanded Alpha Palace Hotel located in Niboye Sector, Kicukiro District together with La Palisse Nyandungu in Remera over the same challenge of waste treatment.
Mugabo said that La Palisse has since complied with what the city authorities demanded. For Alpha Palace, he said they bought the machinery, but still managed it poorly. And last month, the hotel was fined Rwf 2m.
“We wrote a letter complaining because we were fined while we had done what the city had asked us to”, said Alexis Bayingana, the Alpha Palace proprietor.