Sunday, August 10, 2008

More demolition and expropriation

As an addendum to my previous post on the demolition of Poor Kiyovu, I should add that the Kigali City Council's remodelling of the central residential district, Kiyovu, also extends to small shop owners in the richer part of the quarter. Kiosks all over Kigali are a huge employment generator, a place for late-night shopping and also serve as informal bars. The New Times writes in its article, "Demolished kiosk owners drag KCC to court":

[One kiosk owner ] said that he bought the kiosk through KCC [Kigali City Council] during the reign of Theoneste Mutsindashyaka. He quoted ... the contract he has with city authorities which states that the kiosks should not be interfered with before a period of five years.

Needless to say the five year period has not yet elapsed.

[The shop owner] says that he recently received a letter from city authorities informing him that he had been relocated to an area which is far from the city.

The closing statement of the article is a disturbing insight into the mind of Kigali administrators. More evictions, more demolitions, until Kigali is the squeaky-clean showcase that the government wants it to be :

[The city council inspector] said the council is currently developing detailed plans to reduce slums in various areas in the city and that the new plan is designed to make the city a major commercial and service centre in the East African community, as well as making it environmentally friendly.


... and Kigali will be SO pretty!

1 comment:

L A Neumann said...

Hi. I've had a different look at the reconstruction of the central residential district there in Kigali. When in Johannesburg I met Peter Rich, the head architect for the project - he and my partner are friends and he works at Witwatersrand University where Matthias was speaking at a conference. If you haven't yet done so, you should track down some of Peter's work: Mandela Yard in Alexandra, JoBurg; a conversation, http://www.mnet.co.za/Mnet/Shows/carteblanche/story.asp?Id=2795. Ultimately, if Kigali is going to reshape its infrastructure, Peter's probably the guy. Caveat: The displacement of people, primarily the poor, and the destruction of entire neighborhoods is nothing short of tragic; I recognize this and find that it rings of apartheid-era wholesale clearance of townships. It's heartwrenching. Best to you; I hope you're well, Ann Neumann, NYC