Rwanda Parliament has pinned the Ombudsman following several complaints arising from affected occupants ever since started a plan to shift industrial companies from Gikondo wetland to the special economic zone as provided in the Kigali city master plan.
The law that was published in 2018 doesn’t permit any settlement activities, and since last year, these provisions have been followed by a major campaign to remove all citizens and businesses located in designated wetlands starting with Kigali city.
However, the law only allows for alternative agricultural activities to be conducted in the wetlands.
Last year, the parliament heard from the former Ombudsman (Anastase Murekezi) that some businesses, land owners had been compensated while others did not.
It was reported that 23 companies were not compansated at all.
On the issues around compensation on this specific wetland (in Gikondo), MPs said are still lingering, and risk financial losses and definite bank auctions; despite the fact that almost 100% of the business owners have willingly evacuated the area.
The current Ombudsman, Madeleine Nirere told parliament on October 20, 2021, that they were aware of the issue and in intervening they found that there were budget constraints to compensate all the victims.
“You should explain this because it created losses for property owners. Even when there was an issue of budget, we need to know what is now being done since we are in the new budget year,” MP Georgette Rutayisire asked.
“What we were told that about Rwf11 billion could be paid this year and there is also a call (to banks) to be patient with the victims, which some banks have agreed to but others not,” Nirere said while presenting the annual report for the financial year 2020-2021 and activity plan for 2021/2022.
MP Jean Rene Niyorurema insisted that the process has to be done fairly faster as the Gikondo park evacuation has been done, especially that this is where most citizens were earning a living.
In other items, MPs raised an issue of Bugarama wetland where residents have complained of not being able to use it; however the Ombudsman said that they are in talks with the ministry of Agriculture to find an amicable solution.
The ombudsman was criticised on increase in corruption cases, poor community education on financial pyramid schemes and distribution of milk meant for children among others.
Find a New Home
MPs also tasked the Ombudsman to find a new office space to operate from after it emerged in several reports that the Ombudsman staff work in an old structure in Kimihurura and in a congested space.
MPs Frank Habineza and Veneranda Uwamariya asked why the Ombudsman still operates in a small office space, how they have managed to do so during COVID-19 and if there are any plans to find a new office space.
“We are looking for plan B of using conference halls during COVID-19 but also there was a plan for the ministry of infrastructure to give us a new office but we are still waiting,” Nirere said.