Report: 64% of Rwandans have limited awareness of property expropriation rights

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 18 May 2024 at 04:15

More than 60 percent of the Rwandan population has limited awareness regarding their rights in property expropriation, a new report shows.

A recent survey by Transparency International Rwanda (TI-Rwanda) found that only 34.5 per cent of respondents were aware of property expropriation rights, with just 1.4 per cent saying they were fully aware of their rights.

Additionally, 29.0 per cent said they were not sure, 29.1 per cent were unaware, and 0.8% said they were totally unaware of their rights in cases where the government claims privately owned property for the benefit of the public.

A total of 1,050 respondents participated in the survey conducted across the five provinces of Rwanda, where the government has claimed privately owned land for the construction of feeder roads, as well as education and health infrastructure projects. 52.90 per cent of the respondents were male while 47.10 were female.

TI-Rwanda conducted an assessment on the issues of expropriation targeting government programs with support from the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

At least two projects in each of the 15 districts across Western, Eastern, Southern, Northern and Kigali Provinces were selected among three key areas (feeder roads, health and education) for examination.

TI-Rwanda also examined the level of citizen’s participation in the selection of infrastructure projects and compliance with Law NO 32-2015 of 11-06-2015 relating to expropriation in the public interest. The law stipulates that any compensation must be made prior to the project implementation.

“Investors consulted me and assured me that they would not take my land that is why I was not on the list of people who were supposed to be compensated. Later, I was surprised to see their workers with machines destroying my compound and taking my land. They even called the engineer of Gasabo district saying that they will not compensate me because they said that I should claim before the starting of the project. I cannot say that we, citizens have the right on neither our property nor on the expropriation of our properties affected by infrastructure-related projects,” one of the respondents was quoted as saying.

On community awareness of selected infrastructure projects in their village, 39.4 per cent of the respondents said they were aware, 1.9 per cent said they were totally aware, and 18.2 per cent said they were not sure. Additionally, 30.5 per cent of respondents said they were unaware, 0.9 per cent said they were totally unaware, and 9.1 per cent said they didn’t know.

“We were not informed about this project, but we are thankful for benefiting medical services because it is our advantage to see that works related to the construction of Shagasha health centre were complete,” another resident was quoted as saying.
The survey also revealed that 80.7 per cent of the feeder roads were reported by the citizens to have negatively affected community properties during the implementation of projects in the districts selected for the study.

“Houses have been destroyed by the construction of the new roads, and some houses are hanging and may be destructed due to them being on steeped roads," a respondent from Kamonyi lamented.

A section of residents of Nyabihu complained that their houses were damaged by landslides due to roads missing water drainage. The residents also decried lack of compensation for their damaged property.

The report recommends the adoption of improved notice procedures by authorities at the district level and increased transparency and accountability. It suggests provision of all relevant information to the citizens who will be directly affected and avoiding the implementation of projects without written prior agreement from the beneficiaries.

The report has also made several recommendations to Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (Loda), Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN).

The recommendations include the authorities to enhance independence and activities of the Institute of Real Property Valuers in Rwanda (IRPV) and provide necessary support in setting and updating annual land prices; Improve feasibility studies on expropriation projects, including an assessment of socio-economic impacts on the affected population; Initiate a livelihood strategy for citizens whose properties are affected by the implementation of infrastructure projects; and Clarify and follow project timelines, improve, and streamline the payment procedures by allocating sufficient project budgets before the project starts.