The City of Kigali has spoken out on the demolition of a city hotel, located on Mt. Rebero, in Kicukiro district, revealing that the owner, renowned businessman Serge Nsanawe Ndekwe, illegally put up the facility, against several warnings issued to him, to follow rules and regulations.
On Monday, the City of Kigali faced accusations of intolerance and subjecting businesses to losses after the facility was brought down for not meeting construction regulations, with authorities accusing Ndekwe of not heeding to set standards.
Authorities say several violations were committed by the businessman in putting up. According to Dr. Merard Mpabwanamaguru, Vice Mayor in Charge of Urbanisation and Infrastructure, Ndekwe committed a series of serious violations of building regulations in various districts within the city.
City hall accused Ndekwe of buying land in Rebero, Kigarama sector, a Low Density Residential Zone, and started to make subdivisions, the last subdivision was to make 2 plots above mentioned.
“Construction commenced without a permit on one of the plots. He ignored multiple warnings and continued construction from May this year. The other case is encroachment into a forest zone and failure to comply with official letters and subsequent orders,”
“The first letter was sent on1st June, second letter of 3rd August, third letter of 6th November 2023). The decision to demolish structures in the forest zone, on Serge’s cost, was made on 25th November 2023.
City authorities further say that Ndekwe committed similar violations in Kimihurura, Gasabo district, acquiring a building previously named “Lava Hotel” as well as land in a low density residential densification zone according to the masterplan, and subdivided it to make 3 plots.
Ndekwe is said to have gone on to carry out unauthorized modifications and additions to buildings without proper permits, including building additional floors on top of the existing building.
The former owner of Papyrus and Masaka Farms is also accused of deviating from approved designs, causing safety hazards, including cracks and leakages which were observed in different areas of the buildings.
City of Kigali requested the businessman to halt the construction works and requests for structural audit were ignored for the said facilities, between July 2020 and March 2022. It is also alleged that he subdivided plots further and sold them without compliance.
“Ongoing safety concerns and non-compliance persist,” the City says, adding that new owners have been requested to relocate all activities to first comply with recommendations regarding building permits and safety measures.
Furthermore, the businessman is accused of acquiring a plot in Kimironko sector, still in Gasabo district, in the name of her little sister, and proceeded to carry out activities. Here, city authorities say Ndekwe deviated from approved plans, encroaching on a public road as well as non-compliance with the building permit conditions.
In this case, City Hall sent an official letter issued with fines, corrections, structural audit, and demolition requirements but Ndekwe failed to comply within the stipulated time frame.
“In addition to these cases, it has come to our attention that Mr. Ndekwe has a history of illegal constructions dating back to 2016, as evidenced by attached letters regarding the former “Papyrus building” located in Kimihurura,” the Vice Mayor told KT Press.
“The Inspection Department has diligently followed up on these cases, issuing warnings and directives, but Mr. Ndekwe has persistently ignored regulations and orders. Today, the decision has been made to demolish structures falling into the forest zone, with the costs borne by Mr. Ndekwe,” the official added.
He further added that the violations pose a significant threat to public safety and the integrity of the city’s planning. “Urgent intervention is needed to ensure that Mr. Serge complies with regulations and rectifies the existing deviations,” he added.
Efforts to get a comment from Ndekwe were futile by press time as he did not respond to calls and messages. However, in an apology letter seen by KT Press, dated November 27, 2023, Ndekwe admits to transgressions the city accuses him of and begs for leniency.
“I am writing to apologize to you from the bottom of my heart, and admit the mistakes I made, in the construction that was not in accordance with the city’s regulations,” the letter Ndekwe addressed to the City Mayor reads.
“It was really out of ignorance, otherwise I had no intention of breaking the law. But I promise it won’t happen again.
Please allow me to take this opportunity to seek your leniency and support, so that all my work is not lost, among other things, granting my restaurant the right to operate,” he adds.
The businessman has run-ins with City authorities dating back to 2012 when his restaurant and bar, located in Kimihurura, was closed due to lack of parking and again in 2016, he face issues regarding modifying the New Papyrus building without a permit.
However, Social media users questioned the City of Kigali for waiting for the businessman to build before taking action yet they could have stopped him in his tracks, well ahead before investing a lot of his money.
1/2 @CityofKigali Hon. Mayor @PudenceR Dr. @merardmp There was no other way of correcting any mistake than demolishing?Which human danger this building was putting on citizens? U should detect&stop before a building is complete @Rwanda_Housing @RwandaInfra pic.twitter.com/xKKx2HvROH
— Nsanga Sylvie (@NsangaSylvie) November 27, 2023