Rwanda’s capital wants to be “Africa’s Singapore” – there may be lessons for Cape Town
Editorial by Roi Simpson (As heard on “the Lunchtime News Wrap” 13 April 2018)
Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, sees the start of a massive urban upgrade on Friday.
What’ll happen during the course of the day is that at least 1 000 families will be relocated from a slum to make way for a controversial housing estate that has all the mod-cons: roads, lighting, a sewage management treatment system, a school, public center and a market.
The first target is Kangondo slum, which is nestled between upmarket residential areas in northern Kigali. That includes Nyarutarama – home of the Kigali golf Club. But the slum area is popularly known as “Bannyahe”, which is Kinyarwanda for “Where are the toilets?” – due to the pit latrines. That’s resonance point one for Cape Town.
There’s another: these aren’t shacks – these are dilapidated brick structures – so it’s a blend of Salt River on and an informal settlement’s infrastructure problems.
The third point of resonance with Cape Town is that residents are angry, because – while they will be given houses in a fairly decent area 7km away – it’s 13 km by road. Very importantly, though, 13 km further from the main work opportunities for the casual labourers that characterise Kangondo- and significantly less accessible to public transport.
The aggressive gentrification project might turn out to be a lesson in what not to do. But the decision-making, social and financial costs, and the consequences across time (the local government intends to eradicate slums by 2040) will all hold insights and lessons for Cape Town’s land usage.