Families on the shores of Sebeya river located in Rubavu district, Western Province, have been given 14 days to relocate after the Rwanda Meteorology Agency projected a return of the heavy downpour this month.
The decision from Rubavu district authorities comes after a heavy downpour which caused floods and landslides alongside the river in the Western and Northern Provinces respectively, claiming lives of 35 and injuring scores of others in May this year.
However, residents say relocating will incur losses because of the construction works they invested in, near the river. The district officials insisted that ‘life comes first’.
According to Rubavu district, construction permits will only be given to residents ready to construct houses 50 meters away from the river banks to avoid future disasters.
“The greatest loss was, and is to lose, citizens. We cannot lose more people because we don’t want them to incur material losses,” Deogratias Nzabonimpa, acting Mayor of Rubavu district said.
“We worked with these residents to relocate them. We shall continue to find ways to help them during the process, but we cannot have a similar catastrophe that happened.”
On 2 May 2023, 1300 families including 5000 people were displaced from their homes and were accommodated in temporary camps by the government for one month.
Over 1574 houses were completely demolished, and 287 needed renovation.
Yesterday, the Rwanda Meteorology Agency issued a warning of strong winds and rainfall this month.
The entire country is projected to get between 0 and 80 mm of rain, with higher totals of 60 to 80 mm forecast in the northern and western regions of the Rubavu, Nyabihu, Musanze, and Burera Districts.
For the Nyamagabe District, the remaining portions of Musanze and Burera Districts, the northern parts of Nyaruguru, Gakenke, Rulindo, and Gicumbi Districts, as well as the western parts of Nyanza, Ruhango, Muhanga, and Nyagatare districts, rainfall will range from 40 to 60 mm.
The remainder of the Southern Province, Kigali City, and the majority of the Eastern Province are expected to receive between 20 and 40 mm of rain, with the exception of the northern Kayonza and southern Kirehe and Bugesera Districts, which may only receive 0 to 20 mm.