Thousands of casual labourers remain unpaid for years as central and local government entities have renegaded on contractual obligations, it emerged Thursday.
Local Government Minister Prof Anastase Shyaka said at the ongoing national dialogue Umushyikirano that government departments owed contractors, who in turn did not pay their employees – usually short term labourers.
Shyaka said at least Rwf 20b is owed labourers from across the country, which undermines development in families.
“Those wages would have helped people to improve their standards of living if they were paid,” he said.
The arrears emanate from government tenders to build social infrastructure like rural roads, hospitals and public office blocks. In some cases, contractors win tenders to develop projects like agricultural terraces.
In Nyamagabe district, whose case attracted President Kagame’s attention, labourers who worked on the district’s new magnificent office bloc have not been paid for over 4years.
Kagame was visibly irritated as he found out that despite giving directive when he visited Nyamagabe district in February to pay the affected people, no action had been taken.
The mayor of Nyamagabe district Uwamahoro Bonaventure embarrassingly told the Umushyikirano that since then, all they were able to do was compile list of the labourers owed arrears from the construction.
For his part, Minister Prof Shyaka said he takes personal responsibility for not being able to follow up this Nyamagabe issue and others.
Contractors not paying labourers is a common problem across the country. On their part, the contractors accuse government of taking ages to pay, leading them to also not pay workers’ wages.
With the issue coming up at Umushyikirano means it is going to be settled, and heads will roll.