The City of Kigali has decided that poor people don’t belong in the central residential district, Kiyovu. The area known as “Poor Kiyovu”, to differentiate it from “Rich Kiyovu”, has now been almost completely bulldozed. The displaced residents will be compensated according to a government valuation of their land. The government is presumably trying to make way for new urban developments. It is turning the heart of the city into a reserve for the rich and destroying its social and cultural diversity. Poor Kiyovu used to look something like this (from another part of Kigali):
Even the pro-government New Times reports on the views of the unhappy residents:
Last week, I spoke to my friend, K. (name changed), a musician who lived in Poor Kiyovu. The government valued K’s house. K disagreed about the price, refused the payment and had another expert come to value the house. The second valuation was higher. One day, K’s house was gone. It was demolished while he was away, he had not received any payment at all and he lost food and possessions in the house as it was demolished. He is still arguing with the MVK, the city mayoral office. The mayor responds to the New Times :
If only the pesky poor people would do as they are told.
It seems that the government wishes to engineer a city in which Kigali residents and delicate-stomached foreigners will no longer have to suffer vulgar displays of poverty in the city centre.
Its a loss for the city. These people were a major part of the life of the city centre. A much better strategy would have been for the city to have improved the property rights laws and infrastructure in poor Kiyovu to promote its development. Shame on the City of Kigali.