February 19, 2019

Districts spending taxpayer money on ‘irrelevant projects’ – Senate

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A nationwide investigation by a Senate Committee wants government to go back to drawing board to review development master plans of all the districts.

In a session Tuesday afternoon, findings from their tour say the central government should not have let districts to design the own master plans.

In 2008, government came up with the Kigali master plan – a blueprint for how the capital city should look like in 50years and beyond. Five years later in 2013, the remaining 27 districts were required to dream up their future.

The designs designate every aspect of a given district from things like communal residential areas known as imidugudu, industrial zones, highways, and feeder roads, agricultural land and forest reserves.

The plans also allocated regions for commercial complexes, and public infrastructure like hospitals, stadiums, and police posts.

As part of the planned development, each of the 416 sectors was to build a ‘Model Village’ in which the poorest families would be given free fully furnished houses.

A national deadline was set for 2024 when it was projected that all the model villages should be inhabited.

The Senate probe found that as of January 2019, only 70 sectors have constructed their model villages.

If the plan is to be kept, it means 58 model villages must be build every year from now for the next six years.

The senators identified Kirehe and Ngoma district in south-eastern Rwanda as using exactly the same master plan – raising questions as to which of them copied from the other. The districts are neighbors – also bordering Tanzania and Burundi.

Burera and Musanze in the north, and Nyagatare in east had two master plans – which the senators say is causing confusion because some of what was being implemented is not on the plan.

The report says district councils took it upon themselves to approve designs without consulting the central government planning authority, yet they have no professional knowledge.

Each of the 416 sectors is supposed to have model village like these ones above and below, and the houses are given freely to the poorest families

Using a short documentary, the senate committee led by Jacqueline Muhongayire showed areas where infrastructure planned is not relevant to the current needs of the local population.

For example, Nyagatare, Musanze and Burera are unable to provide electricity and water for local residents but are planning to set up big infrastructure to serve industries.

“How can the district expect to generate taxes from people when they are not receiving basic services,” wondered Muhongayire.

After the report presentation, a debate followed. Senator Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, a former senate president and health minister, said district officials who messed up the program should be identified and held accountable.

The senators also said they spoke to private sector members who said they had not been consulted during the designs, and were now being directed on where to put their money.

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