Rwanda: Housing Authority to Issue Fresh Guidelines on Use of Rukarakara

A few days after it issued new guidelines allowing the use of mud bricks commonly known as rukarakara, Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) says that it will soon release another set of rules related to improved version of these bricks.

A combined research by RHA, Rwanda Polytechnic, Earth Enable, African Design Centre and Green Pact Africa has recommended a specific type of soil and texture to be used in the making of mud bricks.

Eric Serubibi, the Director General of RHA, told The New Times that while mud bricks can be made from one type of soil, his office is working with Rwanda Standards Bureau (RSB) on standards guiding an improved version.

"The soil type in Nyamagabe is not the same as the one in Rugarama (in Nyarugenge) so what we are trying to do is to test all the different soils to come up with a better and uniform manner of making the improved version from each of the soil. There is soil that may have little clay content where you will need more additives so that it may meet the standard requirement," he said.

Recent changes

The government recently lifted the ban on the use of mud bricks in construction of houses, which it introduced in 2006.

Serubibi said lifting the ban was aimed at boosting access to affordable housing for low-income earners.

The recent guidelines that came into force on August 1 indicate that the use of mud bricks is only limited to the construction of free-standing residential dwelling units without basements, and with the size not exceeding 200 square meters. Also, mud bricks cannot be used for construction of commercial buildings.

"This is a good opportunity for people interested in construction. It will significantly cut on costs since cement bricks cost Rwf600 or Rfw700 a piece as compared to the mud bricks that could go for less than Rwf100. We are calling on people to comply with the regulations," he said.

Optimism

The decision has been welcomed by many Rwandans who dream to build their homes.

Emmanuel Rutagengwa says that he has been constrained to own a home because of the expenses that came with it; the decision to lift the ban is a constructive one.

"I think that it's a good decision because it will definitely reduce construction costs and allow people to spend more money on other investments. I have heard that if done well with additional strong pillars using iron bars, mud bricks are more reliable than cement bricks," he said.

Jack Mukunzi, another city dweller also welcomed the decision but called on authorities to always consult with ordinary citizens before imposing such bans.

"The authenticity of mud brick houses is undeniable. Some of these houses date back to so many decades back and they are still standing. This is a great opportunity for those who were having a hard time renting to actually pursue their dream to own a home," he said.

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