Rural landowners more affected in expropriation process –Survey

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo
On 30 November 2017 at 10:35

At least 27% expropriated landowners are not satisfied with the expropriation process and compensation on their land but people living in rural areas face a higher undue process, the survey by Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP) has revealed.

Launching the survey findings in Kigali on Thursday, Jean-Léonard Sekanyange, the chairperson of RCSP, said lack of satisfaction among rural residents is result of their limited means to pay private property valuers and unawareness of expropriation law. City dwellers often pay private property valuers to reassess their land value and determine whether it matches with the expropriators’ given value.

“We have recommended civil society organisations to step up efforts to explain laws to citizens for them to file grounded appeals when they are not satisfied with the decisions that affect them,” said Sekanyange, adding that citizens also have responsibility to know about the laws in force without waiting for anyone to teach them.

Sekanyange said that RCSP is advocating for government’s support in paying private valuers when a landowner has no means and wants to reassess the value of their properties. He added the survey was inspired by complaints from unhappy expropriated landowners which are going to civil society organisations.

“Lack of satisfaction is also rooted in the fact that whatever price is paid, a landowner cannot equate it to remaining on their land but we strive to ensure that the compensation given to landowners uplifts their living conditions other than pulling them down. Sensitisation is also vital to ensure that expropriated people use well the funds to buy other properties or start income-generating projects,” he added.

Survey findings

Dr. Eric Ndushabandi, who led the researchers’ team, said major complaints from expropriated landowners include lack of timely notification on expropriation, delay of the compensation and lower prices. Only 69.4% of landowners received adequate information on expropriation and only 36.8% said their say was given adequate value.

Dr. Usta Kayitesi, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Rwanda Governance Board, commended RCSP for the survey, saying it informs the decision-makers and all institutions involved in expropriation process.

“It is vital for all citizens to receive good services, on time and in due process. The law is clear and concerned institutions should abide by it. Prices are set and must be updated every year according to the law,” she said.

Among the surveyed, 74.7% were expropriated by central government, 18.8% by local government and 6.9% by private sector. The compensation price varied between Rwf131 and Rwf20,000 per square metre while a very big disparity in land value was observed between rural and urban areas.

Under the support of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPAS), the study surveyed 449 households in 16 sectors from 12 districts across the country. Participants in the study are predominantly aged between 30 and 49 years. At least 73.7% of participants rely on land as their primary and often only source of income.

Dr Usta Kayitesi, Deputy CEO for RGB
Participants to the event follow the presentation of survey findings about land expropriation and transfer process in Rwanda
Sekanyange (left) and Justus Kangwage, Head of Political Parties and CSOs Department at RGB follow the presentation of findings
Dr Eric Ndushabanda, team leader for the survey on land expropriation and land transfer in Rwanda