The minister of infrastructure on Tuesday appeared before parliament to explain verbally why several road and water projects in Kigali and across the country are either substadard or incomplete despite the government spending a lot of money on them..
A parliament field report in February showed existing substandard district roads in Kigali city especially deteriorated cobblestone roads, community feeder roads without trenches resulting in destruction in a short life span, and uncoordinated infrastructure planning.
On road infrastructure the report showed that many community bridges were dilapidated by rains, unconstructed canalization (water drainage) in Kigali which destroys the roads and citizens’ property.
They also reported cases of projects abandoned by contractors- for example the Bungwe-Rubaya-Gatuna road which was left while at 92%.
Minister Claver Gatate told the parliament that there has been an issue of poor planning which has resulted in some of the infrastructure projects not getting done as expected though most of the uncompleted road infrastructure will be covered in this 2020-21 budget especially the Gakenke Bridge which was destroyed recently.
“The problem has been a lack of an integrated planning process when it comes to roads. We have now embarked on an integrated planning methodology which will involve all stakeholders, such as local government and districts.
Gatate said that the new methodology of planning will enable authorities to identify needs, coordinated finance mobilization and address road connectivity gaps.
For example on the Nyakariro-Kabuga road which doesn’t reach Kicukiro district with 1.6km left, Gatate said that the city of Kigali has mobilized its funding.
On road trenches, Gatete said that they plan to construct 40 of them, with four ongoing studies in Nyarugunga, Kagarama, Kanyonyomba (Gatsata). Implementation for some is expected to start immediately especially in Nyarugunga, and Nyabugogo which is expected to be complete in September.
“The other trenches still need fund mobilization but the biggest problem here is maintenance which requires consistent upkeep, but we have agreed with the Prime Minister’s team on long term solutions,” Gatete said adding that this will enable the government to manage these projects which are largely destroyed by natural disasters.
The minister was also asked to explain why there is still a lack of water supply as a result of unproductive rehabilitation networks.
Gatate said that prioritization of funding from African Development Bank will increase production in secondary cities with four projects in the eastern province (58,000cubic meters per day) and an upgrade of the whole water network (448km).
The Western province will get an additional 29,000 cubic meters per day and a new water network of 887km, while the Northern province will have an additional 10,000 cubic meters per day and a seven project rehabilitation upgrade with 1,266km.
The Southern province will have two projects to produce an additional 21,000 cubic meters per day and five rehabilitation projects on 830.9km.
Kigali city will get additional 40,000cubic meters at Kanzenze project which requires construction of a water storage and a network on 568km.
The minister added that Kigali city will also have 70,000 cubic meters added with support of the Japanese government.
“The study was supposed to end last year but the companies developed conflicts and we had to call-off the tender and re-advertise. We have another Japan government aided study on Kigali alone and due next year,” Gatete explained.
Lawmakers were concerned that Rwanda continues to depend on foreign expertise to plan its projects and expressed a need to improve project study plans before injecting funds that end up being wasted.
MP Theogene Munyangeyo suggested that local universities should be given the first responsibility to resolve the issue of poor planning and discrepant feasibility studies from the reality on the ground.
“We have university graduates and professors with PhDs. Why don’t we use them to plan and do feasibility studies? Do you think that foreigners can understand our terrain better?” Munyangeyo suggested.
In response Minister Gatete said that there is a plan to establish a project planning think-tank that will assist the existing project planning units in each institution.