14 September 2018

Rwanda: Kigali City Moves to Fell Old Street Trees to Avert Disasters

On Wednesday evening, the rush hour traffic, mainly around the Central Business District was worse than usual.

The evening rain that was characterized by strong winds fell a number of trees around the leafy Kiyovu area, near the main city roundabout, blocking several roads leading into and out of the city.

The trees, besides blocking roads, destroyed property, including houses and vehicles around the area and other property.

Besides the CBD, the storm also uprooted trees in Kimihurura, another city suburb known to have a number of old trees.

"There was a strong storm on Wednesday which damaged houses while some trees fell through roads causing traffic jam mainly in the City Centre," Bruno Rangira, the City's spokesperson told The New Times.

No loss of life was reported, while the value of the destroyed property was not readily available by press time.

Claudine Uwamariya, a city resident questioned the strength of the trees planted across the city's streets saying many of them are falling because they are too old to resist heavy storms.

Uwamariya called on city authorities to respond swiftly to the issue, by cutting down all the old trees and replacing them with new one before they cause further damage in the rainy season that is just starting.

Rangira said that they had already started pruning branches of some trees seen as likely to give in to strong winds and are also uprooting those seen as very old.

"We started the activity to make sure no trees cause such incidents. Every year, we work with environment partners, where we replace old trees by planting new ones and we never cease to add more trees on the streets to green our environment in the city. We are continuing to replace old ones so they do not cause accidents," he added.

As the rainy season kicks off, Philippe Habinshuti the Director of Response and Recovery Unit at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (Midimar) alerts the general public to avoid traveling in rain and to install lightning rods at public places as a way of protecting themselves.

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