25 January 2013

Rwanda: Residents Storm Province Over Delayed Compensation

FRUSTRATED Residents of Musanze district who were evicted to pave way for the construction of Musanze-Rubavu highway five years ago are yet to receive their compensation.

Last week, some of the residents stormed the Northern provincial headquarters seeking to have their grievances addressed.

Most expressed disappointment, citing the long time that has elapsed ever since they were 'thrown' out of their houses. They demanded for swift intervention.

David Niyitegeka, a 30-year-old father of three, said he now pays Rwf15, 000 in rent every month which is a lot considering he is a casual labourer.

He reckons that rent fees amounting to Rwf150,000 has accumulated in debts amid empty promises of receiving the compensation for a period of over five years. The Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) has, on several occasions, promised to pay off the victims but to no avail.

On October 11, 2012, RDTA Director General, Dr Elias Twagira wrote a letter to the mayors of Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts to have paid off the first installment of Rwf322.9million by the end of last year.

Without specifying the estimated number of affected residents, the letter puts the total cost of the evictions at Rwf537.3million.

During last month's national dialogue, the issue was raised and President Paul Kagame called for swift intervention to address it.

When the residents stormed the provincial headquarters, they met David Nkurunziza, an official in charge of good governance and social affairs.

He later told The New Times that he was in talks with officials at RTDA to have this issue solved immediately.

Dr Twagira was detained mid last month over breaching of tendering services. Though he was released on non cash bail, he is currently on suspension and could not comment on behalf of RTDA.

Efforts to get a comment from Guy M Kalisa, the RTDA acting director general boss were futile as his known mobile phone was not answered.

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