19 May 2009

Rwanda: Gov't Sets New Building Code

Kigali — The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) yesterday launched the Rwanda building regulations manual which will act as a standard reference for the building, design and construction in the country.

According to the Minister of Infrastructure Eng. Linda Bihire, the benefits to be reaped from applying this document include harmonization of professional practice in the construction industry and curtailment of unofficial developments.

"This document will harmonise the professional practice in the construction industry and will curb informal developments so as to ensure well planned and maintained safe cost-effective and decent buildings in the country," said the minister.

The manual which was adopted by the March 2009 cabinet meeting will take immediate effect from the day of the launch according to the minister.

Bihire also clarified that the document was designed basing on British standards and specifications as laid out by the British Standards Institution of the United Kingdom and that it would be interpreted in conjunction with standard building specifications in use in the country.

"We chose to use the British standards because they are more developed around the world as they have been around for a hundred years. But since Britain is flat, we had to interprete them in accordance with our country's topography," she explained.

The building control regulations include the applications for approval of plans, Professional engagement, general requirements, structural designs, building services, fire protection, site activities, special provisions, enforcement and penalties among other features.

The CEO of Rwanda Development Board, Joe Ritchie, expressed gratitude for having the regulations in place saying that it would facilitate investors with clear guidelines on how to conduct their business as opposed to the previous situation.

The Vice Mayor of Kigali City, Jeanne d' Arc Gakuba said that they would start using the regulations with immediate effect, adding that the city had for long waited for the document to facilitate the implementation of the city Master Plan.

"At least 70 percent of the buildings in the city are inappropriately set up, which is a big threat," said Gakuba.

The regulations will also be embedded in the curriculums at the faculties of Civil Engineering both at the National University of Rwanda and Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) to help students acquaint themselves with them before practicing.

According to the officials, the regulations will periodically be updated and new editions issued in line with the dynamic technological developments of the construction industry.

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