All residentials in Huye town with bananas have been directed to cut them down or the authorities are sending groups of men to do the job – causing outcry in the city, that also hosts the biggest campus of University of Rwanda.
Huye district, south province is one of major urban centres in the country. Due to having major university campuses and having a Rwanda-Burundi border, it has developed more than other areas.
In the past week, local officials have been arriving in residential homes and cutting down bananas. In Rwanda, it is common for extra spaces in a home compound to be used for bananas, vegetables or dotted with ovacado trees.
In areas of Taba, Tumba and Cyarwa – which are suburbs of Huye town, there is disbelief that such action is being done. Locals say the men destroying the banana gardens are arriving without warming and going straight to cut them down.
Local media quoting some residents as saying the bananas have been a source of income. Others say the banana were some kind of beautification for their homes and a source of food.
Huye district mayor Ange Sebutege says a decision was adopted in September last year to improve the cleanliness of the city. Cutting down banana in homes dotted along roads is part of that cleaning operation, said the mayor.
It is not only bananas being targeted. Bushy hedges known in Kinyarwanda as Imiyenzi which act as fences, and some trees are also being removed.
“There are designated areas for plantations and residentials. You cannot have plantations in a residential area in a city. We want everyone to enjoy their stay in our city yet some of the homes look like farmland,” said mayor Sebutege.
By removing Imiyenzi fences, homes are being required to put brick walls or leave the space wide open. As a result, those that had these Imiyenzi fences are left with no privacy, which they have enjoyed for ages.
The district boss has also dismissed allegations that no warning was issued to allow people time to harvest their bananas.
The mayor said warns have been sent over local radios. The strategy we are using now is going to homes directly, added the mayor.
The district has also required people with buildings along roads to paint them. And that from now on, there will be a scheduled periodic painting for all buildings. It means people have to plan for regular paint in theie budgets.