Wednesday, August 1, 2012

90 per cent of Kigali residential land earmarked for apartments

City officials have said only 10 per cent of Kigali’s land will be reserved for bungalows.

In an exclusive interview, Kigali Vice-Mayor in charge of Finance and Economic Development, Alphonse Nizeyimana, explained that the move is in line with sustainable urban planning.

Nizeyimana said Kigali has only 52 per cent of land for development, and stressed that apartments were for better land management.

“We have very limited land for development and to mitigate the problem of the density, we have to adopt suitable policies,” Nizeyimana said.

“We have provided only 10 per cent for high-end houses and people to embrace the new changes in the city. We will not allow anyone to build anyhow. People have to abide by the city master plan.”

Most Rwandans fancy a home with a yard and an annex, a tendency that, according to city urban planners, threatens the city’s future in terms of development.

Kigali’s current population is estimated at 1.2 million, but it’s expected to reach 2.9 million by 2025, and five million in 2040.

According to Nizeyimana, embracing condominiums would curb the insufficiency of water supply and energy.

“It costs the government Rwf5 million to connect a home to electricity and water, but with apartments, it would cost Rwf 2 million, hence every citizen would access both water and energy easier,” he noted.

The country still faces challenges of shortage of water, but the government says it wants to work with other development partners to increase access to safe water from 71% today to 100% by 2017.

Nizeyimana added that the introduction of apartments will not only improve the city’s urban development but would boost business.

“With apartments, one lower ground floor will accommodate commercial area with restaurants and with we hope it will raise business,” Nizeyimana said.

Members of Project Umubano, an initiative of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party, have advised the government, Kigali authorities as well as developers, to embrace apartment accommodation for better land management.

A team of seven urban planners, who were in the country as part of the project’s latest mission, concluded that there was an urgent need for the country to turn to apartments to help sustain Rwanda’s urban planning to mitigate fears of  rapid population growth both in the city and the country.

The city has over 730 square kilometres of hills and valleys, with only 422,825 square metres appropriate for development.

Esther Mutamba, the Director General of Rwanda Housing Authority, told this paper earlier that the government has already started sensitising the population on the benefits of what she called housing cooperative projects – beginning with civil servants”.

However, several citizens resist development of apartments, citing the associated costs, but concerned authorities target having 40,000 rentals by 2015 mostly for medium and low income earners. An apartment ranges between Rwf 28 million and 45 million.
It is estimated the country needs 25,000 housing units every year.

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