Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has arrested five people, including four officials linked to Gasabo district, suspected of authorising the construction of the controversial Urukumbuzi Village Estate, commonly known as “Kwa Dubai”, on suspicion of abuse of functions.
KT Press understands that among those arrested in the ongoing investigations is the former Mayor of Gasabo district, Stephen Rwamurangwa, Raymond Chretien Mberabahizi, Former Vice Mayor Gasabo District, Jeanne d’Arc, Nyirabihogo, former Director of One Stop Center at Gasabo district and Jean Baptiste Bizimana, the Gasabo district Engineer.
Also detained is businessman Jean Nsabimana, commonly known as Dubai, in connection with the construction of substandard housing units located in Murama Cell, Kinyinya Sector, Gasabo district, which have been in the spotlight in recent weeks over their standard.
The housing estate came under scrutiny after a video emerged showing the houses crumbling in a heap after heavy rain. In the viral video, people are heard discussing the poor construction materials used and the fact that the houses were not given a good foundation.
During a press conference held by the City of Kigali (CoK) on April 17, the City Mayor Pudence Rubingisa said that an assessment done by the city showed that seven storied houses had structural issues and 54 of the 114 single-floor houses need repairs, to bring them to standard.
Eighteen families which are renting some of these apartments and five which had bought them permanently have been told to leave temporarily. The quality of the houses has raised a major public debate, which saw President Paul Kagame weighing in, questioning how authorities permit construction of substandard houses which endanger the lives of people.
The arrested officials were in office when Dubai commenced construction in 2015. According to available information, an investigation by RIB found that the said officials had a hand in authorising the construction and occupancy of the housing units which were found to be of substandard quality.
Dr. Thierry B. Murangira, RIB Spokesperson, confirmed to KT Press that the four officials and the businessman were arrested in connection with ongoing investigations into the controversial project, which has left home owners at the crossroads.
According to the City of Kigali, the assessment indicated that more than 60 houses in the estate need to be re-built, necessitating the families to vacate their homes momentarily.
During the press conference on Monday, Mayor Rubingisa said that those responsible for authorising and occupancy of the houses would be held accountable once investigations are complete.
Rwamurangwa was the mayor of Gasabo district from 2014 to February 2020 when the position was phased out under the new structure of the city.
What does the law say?
According to Article 15 of law N° 54/2018 of13/08/2018 Law on fighting against corruption, on Abuse of functions, any public servant or any other person holding a public office who abuses his/ her position or powers he/she holds by virtue of that position and performs or omits to perform an act, in violation of laws, for the purpose of obtaining an illegal benefit for himself/herself or for another person, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven (7) years but not more than ten (10) years and a fine of not less than five million Rwandan francs (FRW 5,000,000) but not more than ten million Rwandan francs (FRW 10,000,000).
Where the offence is committed with the aim of getting a profit valuable in money, the penalty becomes imprisonment for a term of not less than seven (7) years and not more than ten (10) years and a fine of three (3) to five (5) times the value of the illegal benefit solicited.