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Land issues remain a social problem

Submitted by on July 22, 2014 – 9:41 amNo Comment

m_Land issues remain a social problem

Two senior citizens living in Bibale cell, Kimironko sector have for the past nine years failed to get a resolve for the existing land wrangle, in spite having battled out the case at the grass root levels.

Odetta Mukarutabana accuses Veneranda Kayitesi for violating her space and building structures in her pathway, making it difficult for her and her family of seven to access the house.

In 2009, Odetta bought a house behind that of Veneranda; but residents says that the dispute goes back nine years ago even before Odetta come in- meaning that Odetta entered into a house which was long disputed- which could be the reason why the previous owner (Mariko Mukiza) could have sold it.

First it was the dispute of the entrance gate that is used by both families, but the issue escalated to another level when Veneranda built an extra two rooms to the existing squatter’s house- which had only one room and a sitting room.

Apparently residents convened a community meeting and resolved that the gate should be removed as a way of giving both families the flexibility of entering freely, but the extended house construction was left untouched since it was part of Veneranda’s property.

“We tried to resolve this issue many years ago. We thought that something would have been done to solve this problem, but we are surprised that we are still being called to sit in meeting to talk about the same issue” said Joshua Mugenzi, a of the former village leader- who previous handled the case.

One of the incidences that sparked a fresh row was witnessed in March this year, when the accused- Veneranda- built Verandah for her tenants living in the squatter’s house, blocking the little space that existed for the Odetta family to access their house.

Odetta reported the case to police- who referred her to the sector official, where she lounged a case that was forwarded to the sector administration. A local community meeting was convened to address this issue and resolved that the construction should be halted and nothing added.

Kimironko sector officials, and the Executive Secretary for the Kimironko sector, Theophile Niragire called a meeting to resolve the issue once and for all.

During the meeting, it was clear that Niragire said that he was to take a decision to solve this case once and for all.

“This may not be in ones favor but it will only be changed by another level that is above my power. We have concluded that the gate remains, but no one should build anything. If it happens, everything will be demolished” he said.

The last spark was two weeks after the above meeting, when Veneranda violated the community meeting resolutions, and plastered the veranda, compelling her neighbor to take the case further after the case going through the hands of village, cell and sector leader.

Odetta Mukarutabana says that she is not satisfied with the way local leaders have handled the issue and has now taken the case to the Gasabo district offices.

Odetta’s argument is that her neighbor- Veneranda Kayitesi Alias ‘mama Kayitare’, has blocked her path way which leads to her house and over the years, she has built structures which have made it hard for her to access the house which bought in 2009.

The accused’s argument, in the voice of his son- Kayitare said that they have the rightful papers that allow them to build in their property, and the gate was placed at the entrance for security purposes.

Land wrangles still rock Rwanda despite existing land laws and to a far extent resulting into some death related to land disputes between families. They dominate the cases received at the Office of the Ombudsman. Out of a total of 3,662 cases received between 2010 and 2011, 525 were related to land wrangles.

A recent survey by the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD), which revealed that over 90 per cent of community disputes are, related to land with insecurity of land rights an outstanding issue.

President Paul Kagame has consistently asked local leaders to handle and quickly resolve issues facing residents before they get out of hand.

During the 11th National Dialogue Council (NDC) in December, 2013, Kagame insisted that Rwandan leaders should move from lip service and put into action every decision made at any of the leadership levels, and subsequently cut down on number of meetings, which he said cause delays in service delivery and attaining the development goals.

 “If we don’t take action, it (corruption) will have an impact on the economy and security; even if we have a good ranking on the global level. These rankings should add energy to us, to act.” He said.

According to the UN report on Rwanda, the state of Governance in Rwanda is steadily improving, according to the Rwanda Governance Scored Card (RGS) launched 30 July, 2013 in Kigali.

The RGS showed significant improvements in areas of rule of law, participation, political rights and civil liberties. Safety and security indicator ranks best with 91.36% and quality of service delivery ranks last though it has registered an improvement of 4.23%.

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