Gvt to recover expropriation fees paid to traders in Gikondo wetland

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 8 October 2022 at 07:35

The Government of Rwanda has began a process to recover the expropriation fees paid to traders who owned factories in Gikondo Industrial Park after establishing that their businesses were operating in a wetland.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) says that an audit indicated that these traders were undeservingly paid at least Rwf22.3 billion in compensation.

Concerned traders include those who had factories in Gikondo wetland that were relocated to the Special Economic Zone in Masoro, Gasabo District.

The relocation began in 2013 to restore the wetland into a green space with different attractive features.

It was due to be completed in 2016 but delayed as it required a huge budget.

In 2018, MINICOM announced that Rwf30 billion was needed for expropriation of businesses in the area.

However, the cabinet meeting held on July 29, 2022, resolved that the compensation given to traders with businesses in Gikondo Industrial Park should be returned to the public treasury.

That decision was based on Law No. 27/2021 of June 10, 2021 governing land in Rwanda, in its article 33, which states that wetlands belong to the state.

As it goes, it cannot be given to individuals and no one can be granted ownership because they have exploited it for long.

IGIHE has learnt from one of traders who received a letter requesting a refund of Rwf507 to the national coffer.

The letter reads that MINICOM is ready to discuss with the trader on payment methods and deadlines.

The money must be deposited to a designated account in the National Bank of Rwanda.

The Director General of MINICOM in charge of Promotion and Entrepreneurship Development, Evalde Mulindankaka, recently told IGIHE that the traders did not deserve compensation because they had set up factories in a wetland.

"As of today, we have written to individuals or companies amounting to 47. Through the letter, everyone was informed of the amount of money to be returned to the national treasury, and given chance to discuss different recovery alternatives with the government," he said.

"It is clear that some of concerned traders might not have the full amount of money at once. We will possibly agree on deadlines for payments after engaging with them," added Mulindankaka.

He explained that it is the reason why payments in installments was considered.

"We engaged with them before sending the letters. Some of them might refund the money without negotiations but others will possibly require discussions. Letters were only sent to those who were already compensated but there are others who did not receive compensation. So, it coincided with the assessment to establish whether their businesses were operating in a wetland or not. Such traders need to understand that they can’t be compensated but keeps the burden of refunding at bay," noted Mulindankaka.