Rwanda: Key Issues Residents Want Addressed in City Master Plan

Kigali city residents would want an ideal master plan to take into consideration aspects such as easier home ownership, access to utilities and open spaces among others.

These are some of the concerns that have emerged from ongoing consultations between the City of Kigali officials and different stakeholders.

In June last year, the city began a process to review and update the current master plan following widespread concerns by city dwellers on multiple issues.

Among the aspects that triggered the review was its rigidity as well as the complaints that it had not been developed in consultation with city residents and stakeholders.

This background led to a perception among some residents that the master plan had more negative effects on their livelihoods compared to benefits.

Some city residents were also unaware that the master plan existed only coming across it when being stopped from developing their properties.

The city sought the the services of Singaporean firm, Surbana SMEC, in reviewing the project.

The total cost of the project is estimated at about Rwf1 billion with the completion date for the review set for June this year.

Officials say that in the process of consultation, among aspects that stood out strongly from citizens was the need to have open spaces that can serve as recreational parks.

City residents would also like the new master plan to have provisions of modern and efficient public transport system, according to Fred Mugisha, the Director of Kigali Urban Planning and Construction One Stop Centre.

Mugisha said that access to amenities such as water, sewerage system and electricity topped the residents' concerns.

Kigali residents who spoke to The New Times said that they would want a master plan that has multiple provisions for affordable housing projects which is a top concern for most.

Maurice Gakwaya a civil servant and a city resident told The New Times that with home ownership and affordability being a big concern for the majority, the city authorities should give it attention.

Others have called for less disruption of existing business and operations in the process of developing the master plan.

Some say that they hope that the new plan will not introduce significant changes that would disrupt livelihoods, businesses as well as lead them to move from their residences unnecessarily.

Sylvie Rusangiza said that as a home owner, her main concern is to what extend the new master plan could affect her home causing her to move which would affect her in many ways, including her business, a retail shop she runs in her neighbourhood.

The previous masterplan had been implemented to about 70 per cent of Phase 1 between 2013 and 2018.

Mugisha said that with only about a quarter of the entire city being habitable, the new master plan will seek ways to provide ideal housing options to accommodate the growing city population which is currently at 1.5 million and is expected to reach 4 million by 2050.

According to city officials, out of the 730km2 that make up the city, only 50 per cent of it is habitable, out of which, about 25 per cent goes to infrastructure installations.

Infrastructure development, he said would also take into context the grown population and the need for increased efficiency. The city engineer allayed fears that the new city plan would cause a section of the population to leave the city saying that it would take into account varying contexts of residents.

The city authorities are expected to share a draft plan with residents in May this year for additional inputs and comments before the commencement of implementation in June.

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