Home NewsNational Enjoy The Festive Seasons Responsibly – New Kigali City Mayor

Enjoy The Festive Seasons Responsibly – New Kigali City Mayor

by Vincent Gasana
12:29 pm

Samuel Dusengiyumva, the Mayor of City of Kigali

An end, a beginning, and continuity, it was all there in the city of Kigali’s Mayoral press conference, to the end the year, and begin the new.

It was on one hand, just another one of the regular press conferences the mayor of Kigali holds, it was at all special, only because this one was the last of the year.

For the newly elected Mayor of Kigali, Samuel Dusengiyumva however, it was especially important, in that it was his first press conference, since taking up the role.

The gathered members of the media fraternity seemed to have stored up an entire year’s worth of questions, some, like waiting times at hospitals and clinics, clearly out of the mayor’s purview, but he fielded them all anyway.

The hint to what lay behind the rather lengthy and wide ranging questions, could be read in one journalist’s complaint, about how it is often difficult to find an official to respond to journalists’ inquiries. To spontaneous applause from the journalists, the mayor assured them all, that there would much better engagement with them.

The Mayor seemed like a man minded to hit the ground running. As well as his own team, which included the Vice-Mayor, Martine Urujeni, he was also joined by the senior Rwanda National Police (RNP) officer, responsible for policing in the city, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Desire Gumira, and to address the inevitable questions about the regulation of places of entertainment, the deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Nelly Mukazayire.

L-R: Vice mayor Urujeni Martine, Mayor Samuel Dusengiyumva, and RBD deputy CEO Nelly Mukazayire

Perhaps surprisingly, if interestingly, for city authorities, the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor had to answer questions about agricultural performance and regulations around Kigali. Thanks to weather conditions, they noted, food inflation is coming down.

The Vice-Mayor, who has socio-economic in her docket, reiterated that there were indeed designated farming areas in Kigali, not only that, if they can, residents are encouraged to keep kitchen gardens and attempt vertical farming.

The often repeated questions, are about farming in the city’s wetlands. The policy however, could not be clearer, and was clarified once again. As the wetlands are regenerated to preserve the environment, farming them is necessarily discontinued.

More concerning than farming, has been construction of homes on the edge of wetlands. This has led to loss of life, with entire families carried by floods, during heavy rains. Thousands of homes have had to be demolished, and thanks to the action taken, the Mayor expressed both relief and satisfaction, that no lives were lost, during the last rains.

Nyabugogo marshland which extends to Rwandex-Poids Lourd

And he confronted the question of where people are expected to go, when these dwellings are demolished. “There are a number of projects to house the most disadvantaged, and vulnerable groups” he said, “but in any case, the first and most important thing, was to prevent further loss of life.” And while all that can be done to house people will be done, he added, the hard economic reality, is that the construction of new housing will be determined by the availability of resources.

It is perhaps an immutable fact of life that there always be issues around land ownership. It is testament to the efficiency with which Rwanda has reformed the laws around land tenure, that when the questions about land disputes duly came, the Mayor was able to say, confidently, that they were being resolved.

As so many others of its kind, the press conference also once again showed the yawning gulf between Rwanda as it is, and as it is often depicted, by many, if not most in the foreign media.

The supposedly oppressed media was at its most obstreperous, when posing questions about closing times for places of entertainment. Rwanda, somewhat predictably Kigali, in particular, for a few weeks, indulged in throwing something a tantrum, when the government introduced new closing times for bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues.

From Monday to Friday, the new closing times, would be 1.00AM, and an hour later at 2.00AM, on weekends.

The main purpose of the change, explained Mukazayire, was to allow those who work in the sector, some structure, where they too can rest. The grumbling however, has not quietened down. Voluble claims that some businesses may have to close, if they cannot open all night, or even that it will encourage more drinking, as people will go from public bars, to private houses to keep the alcohol flowing, continue.

And of course, private parties mean noise pollution. Residents of Kigali are slowly beginning to learn what residents of any well governed city, have always known, that as the Mayor indicated in a quote often attributed to American jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, “your rights end when my rights begin.”

Or as ACP Gumira put it, more bluntly, any noise, must be contained within the individuals’ four walls, so as not to impinge on others’ rights not to have their peace and quiet disturbed. Places of worship, which often like to use loud speakers and sound systems, are not exempt from the injunction.

Over the holiday period, closing times for entertainment venues, will be extended by an hour. Closing time for Monday to Thursday will now be 2.00AM, and up to morning for the weekend.

Like almost everyone of his counterparts around the world, during this time of the year, the Mayor reminded everyone to drink responsibly. Dusengiyumva’s tenure as mayor, begins with a government campaign, “TunyweLess” to raise awareness of alcohol abuse, especially among young, some of whom are still of an age where it is illegal for them to be served alcohol.

The new Mayor closed the conference by wishing all, the best during the festivities to end the year and bring in the new, and calling again for responsible drinking. “We ask again for people to pay heed to the ‘TunyweLess’ call, and for people to look after each other.”

And to the journalists, he reiterated that the city would engage with them more regularly, and asked them to play their part, in informing the people. “We and you serve the same client” he told them, “the people”, “please work with us, in getting to them the information they need to know.”

Related Posts