City of Kigali authorities have said they have embarked on renewed exercise to identify plots of land within city suburbs that have not been developed, warning that the law will take its course for those who will be found at fault.
The 2013 Law Governing Land Use in Rwanda provides for the confiscation of land within urban areas for which a detailed physical plan was approved by competent authorities, but it spends three consecutive years unexploited.
Once confiscated, the property is sold to competent developers through an auction, and the proceeds are given to the owner of the property.
According to Marie-Solange Muhirwa, Chief Urban Planner of the city, in an inspection that was done in 2020, up to 696 plots in urban dwellings were found unexploited.
“We interacted with owners and advised them to start developing them. Some started, but some did not. For those who did not, the law will be applied,” she said.
She added that they have started a fresh exercise to identify all the undeveloped plots in the city.
In a press conference on Wednesday, August 3, Mayor Pudence Rubingisa noted that undeveloped plots of land or stalled construction projects affect the city’s development plans.
Specifically speaking about undeveloped land, he noted that there is a possibility that some of the owners are being ‘speculative’ whereby they buy land without real intentions of developing it, but rather target to resell it at a better price after some time.
“You find that a particular piece of land does not get developed but rather keeps changing hands from one person to another. With this, we are not attaining the development we want,” he noted.
Besides being aimed at promoting investments, the government’s efforts to repossess redundant pieces of property is intended at maintaining security of neighbourhoods.
This is because abandoned pieces of property like uncompleted buildings or bushy plots of land can be used as hideouts for people who want to do criminal activities.
Some of the failed projects that the city authorities will be dealing with soon is Kigarama market in Kicukiro and Amarembo City Centre, a commercial area that was proposed to be built in the CBD five years ago but has failed to materialise.
This will not be the first time that the City of Kigali will be taking action on undeveloped pieces of land and stalled projects.
In 2020, for instance, city authorities announced that they had repossessed some 58 private properties, including plots of land and unfinished construction projects, citing delays in their development.
Among the properties that were affected at the time include Century Park Estate, a project located in Nyarutarama, consisting of a hotel, luxurious villas and high-end apartments. It is however not clear if the property was auctioned or the developer got a reprieve.
Besides repossessing and auctioning properties, the city administration uses some alternative measures including connecting the owners to prospective buyers that are ready to purchase and immediately carry on the development.