Rwanda: Bugesera District suspends issuance of construction permits

19 October 2018

Bugesera District has temporarily suspended issuing construction permits for both residential and commercial buildings, citing encroachment on arable land from commercial and residential property developers.

District officials said they have suspended all housing related construction in the district pending a review of the current masterplan for Nyamata town and the ongoing process to come up with a physical plan for settlement in rural parts of the district.

“It became evident to us that Bugesera is developing at a fast pace as a secondary city. Construction projects were the order of the day, which is good, but it should be guided (by the masterplan),” the district Mayor, Richard Mutabazi, said.

The Mayor said the process of issuing construction permits will resume in two months and that ongoing construction projects will not be affected. In 2014, the district issued 112 construction permits in Nyamata town while 210 permits were issued in 2015, according to the District Engineer, Christian Umuhoza.

In 2016, they issued 243 permits, 331 in 2017 and 390 so far this year. The district resolved to stop issuing construction permits after it established that people were using arable land to construct homes, something they said could potentially lead to low levels of agricultural output.

Bugesera, where the country’s largest airport is being constructed, is increasingly becoming a strategic area for investors and individuals alike. Property developers and hoteliers have targeted it for investment, seeking to benefit from anticipated airport traffic, while it is also attractive to individuals looking for affordable land to build residential houses.

This has prompted the district intervention to streamline land use in order to strike the balance between preserving the land for agriculture and encouraging investments in non-agricultural projects such as real estate development.

“We will be very strict on recommendations for settlement land and very helpful for investors in apartments such that many people can live on a small land and we remain with enough land for agriculture,” Mutabazi said.

Bugesera has a masterplan for Nyamata town, which the mayor says was for a normal town not for a burgeoning a vibrant small city as projections show today. The process to review the masterplan and physical plans for rural areas is almost complete, he said. Private sector operators have requested the district to expedite the review of the masterplan.

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