Depending on your viewpoint, the Kigali City Masterplan, which was launched in February 2009, is either an ambitious, forward thinking, grand vision for the Rwanda of the 21st Century or an “insanely ambitious” folly that makes a castle in the sand look like a wise investment.
Regardless of which side of the argument your sympathies lie, the Kigali of today (see above) is certainly a long, long, long, long way from the utopian vision of the near future presented in this video – which begins with the question:
“Will you believe me, if I show you?”
For anyone living in Kigali, the Dubai-esque vision presented in the video is both a jaw dropper and a head scratcher. Included are a number of eyebrow raising moments, for expats at least;
The only segment of the video that features an image of the poorer neck of the Kigali of today is the one above. In the video, this is scrubbed away to reveal what looks like a mansion house.
Are the people who currently live in these “informal housing areas” going to be rehoused in mansion houses? I don’t think so. It’s not clear if these people fit into the Kigali City Masterplan at all. Can the poor become part of the “new Rwandan urbanite” set envisaged in the video?
Given the scope of the grandiose plan, it’s surprising how little space the people who are at most risk from its implementation get in the local press.
Just this week one report refers to the clearing of “unauthorized and poorly constructed houses” in Kimisagara Sector, Nyarugenge District of Kigali. However, there is no mention of the fate of the people currently living in those “unauthorized and poorly constructed houses”.
In an interview with Nyarugenge District Mayor, Theophila Nyirahonora, she revealed that some people take it upon themselves to construct houses without the government’s consent, and in some cases build in unauthorized places.
She said that these people not only expose themselves to natural disasters, but also tarnish the image of the country, adding that this will not be tolerated.
The Mayor added that all houses that were built without permission would be demolished with the aim of streamlining and fulfilling the government and city plan, notably the Kigali City Master Plan. link
Meanwhile, the Police were briefed this week on the masterplan and “security guidelines”,
Kigali city Mayor, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira has appealed to the Rwanda National Police (RNP) to partner with the city in creating awareness of the Kigali Master Plan and in ensuring that all the security guidelines in its implementation are honoured. link
There is a precedent to this mass clearing. The “poor” area of Kiyovu was cleared in the summer of 2008. The inhabitants were compensated. Indeed, some received more compensation than they expected. However, almost three years later, the area of Kiyovu they used to live in remains completely undeveloped.
Take a look at the Kigali City Masterplan for yourself. Grand ambitious vision for a thriving Rwanda of 2060? Or a castle built on Kigali sand?
Photograph of Kigali at the top taken from Flickr.