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From unplanned settlement to new housing development in Kigali city: the case study of Amahoro cell, Muhima sector

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par John MUGISHA
National University of Rwanda - Bachelor's degree 2011

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4.3 Planning implications of Amahoro cell

According to Kigali city subarea master plans, Amahoro cell like other parts of Muhima sector is planned for multi-storey buildings for commercial and institutional services (commercial business district, CBD). Currently, Amahoro cell is occupied by informal residential houses with unsustainable building materials. According to the level of income of the residents in Amahoro cell where 68% of the households earn less than 50,000 Rwandan francs per month, they are not able to construct houses that comply with the required standards.

In 2008, Kigali city council valuated immovable properties of residents in both Ubumwe and Amahoro cells. However, Ubumwe residents were compensated and resettled to Batsinda (a housing project initiated by Kigali city council, Rwanda Social Security Board and Rwanda Housing Bank) but residents in Amahoro cell were not paid.The cell executive secretary said that after expropriating Ubumwe cell residents, the city council saw that the acquisition of plots by investors was slow and decided not make more mass expropriations. When an investor needs to acquire land, then he/she expropriates the land owners occupying the surface area that he wants to cover. According to law No. 18/2007 of 19/04/2007 chapter 3, section3, article17 relating to the expropriation in public interest, `The owner of the land is not allowed to carry out any activities after the land survey and the inventory of the properties thereon and coming to terms with the beneficiaries. In case he or she carries out any activities, they shall not be valued in the process of expropriation'. This hindered residents who were able to upgrade their houses. Time came when this step of land survey and inventory of the properties towards compensation and relocation lost validity. But residents are still bound by the regulation of Kigali city council which states that no new building should be erected in the area without prior authorization from the district which confirms that the building conforms to the requirements by the master plan. Upgrading the house by changing the shape and size of the building is not acceptable and any upgrading is authorized by the district.

However, recently Kigali city council took a decision to improve the city's sanitation and physical outlook by mobilizing all residents to remove all stones, metallic objects and other woody materials that were put on roofs to support old iron sheets and paint them (photo 6). These measures are taken to keep the city clean while in the transition of implementing Kigali conceptual master plan.

Photograph 6: House under roof painting

Source: Author, 2011

4.4 Resident's perception on informal housing upgrading and master plan implementation

Urban renewal involves upgrading of the existing urban buildings and structures or clearing the existing informal settlements for new developments. The latter is planned to be implemented in Amahoro cell according to the subarea master plan of Muhima sector. One of the objectives of this research was to assess Amahoro residents' perception on this renewal envisaged in the master plan and what they would demand if susceptible to expropriation or relocation.

4.4.1 Perception on Kigali master plan

Generally residents admit that the nature of housing in their neighborhood is not good depending on the sustainability of the building materials, minimum parcel size and basic infrastructure provision and accessibility. About 73% of the surveyed households responded that the nature of housing in their neighborhood is poor while only 27% said that their neighborhood is good in terms of housing development (table 5).

Surveyed households said that they have heard about Kigali conceptual master plan and that their neighborhood will be developed into a business centre with multi-storey buildings. They also said that KCMP is one way and a step towards achieving Rwanda's vision 2020 for its citizens. They further said that its implementation will lead to the country's overall development through enhancement of commercial services and extension of both physical and social infrastructure.

However, they added that the implementation of the master plan will displace them to the city's periphery which will hinder accessibility to their jobs in the city centre.

Table 5: Residents' judgment on the sustainability of building materials in their neighborhood




Nature of housing in the neighborhood depending on the sustainability of building materials







Source: Household survey, 2011

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