The Green Party has expressed outrage over house demolitions ongoing in Kigali since last weekend that have resulted into over 1000 families sleeping in the cold.
Party leader and lawmaker Dr Frank Habineza has gone on a media offensive appearing on various local media venting his anger at the demolitions. Since Kigali authorities began the action last Saturday, there has been no intervention from Parliament, neither has any individual MPs made public comments about the issue.
Kigali city says all residential homes in wetlands and those on hillsides, which are considered high risk zones must leave. The relocation order was first issued in 2017, and there have been several other unrespected deadlines.
However, last week Kigali sent out new relocation notification letters to the target families giving them 15 days to move. But three days after, gangs of men descended on the homes to demolish them, in some places early morning as people slept.
While many are living out in the cold, hundreds others are being moved from hillsides to centers like schools for temporary shelter.
Those whose homes have been demolished and continue to be brought down, are being given rent money for two months. Rwf 60,000 ($64) for those who owned the houses, and Rwf 30,000 for those who were renting there.
To put it into context, many of the houses being demolished were rented for as low as Rwf5,000, with the highest price going for not more than Rwf 15,000. Though the government rent money is a good offer, it is impossible to find houses for rent at that prices in well established neighborhoods.
It means therefore that those affected will have to find urgent shelter far away outside the city. This shock is what is making many to prefer to live out in the cold, hoping government will get them places to relocate to.
The relocations and demolitions are aimed at protecting the people living in wetlands given that we expect more rains this month, argue Kigali authorities.
According to government data, there 7,222 facilities in wetlands, of which 3000 of these are residentials. The urgent demolitions have been for residentials.
For Green Party’s Dr Habineza, the actions of Kigali authorities are inhumane.
“Turning people into refugees in their own country is a very disturbing development,” he said, and has plenty of questions.
“Why didn’t the City’s planning department come up with appropriate ways since 2017 to resettle these people instead of making them refugees in their own country yet there is no war?”
“Why should the City Council always wait for the rainy season, at time when people actually need shelter from the cold, to effect the relocations? Why is the City always behaving like ambulance?”
Of all the other 10 political parties inside the country, no other has come out to say anything about the ongoing process. Social media is active with condemnation from exiled political groups and individuals, which is expected.
Meanwhile, this Wednesday evening a delegation of ministers called a press conference to explain the operations, as it appeared government was facing a public relations disaster.
The ministers who are speaking are: Claver Gatete (Infrastructure), Dr Mujawamariya Jean d’Arc (Environment), Prof Anastase Shyaka (Local Government) and that of disaster management.
The press conference is also attended by all Governors of the 4 provinces and Kigali Mayor Pudence Rubingisa.
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