New Bill to Dissolve RNRA into Three Entities

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By Daniel Sabiiti

Dr Vincent Biruta, Minister of Natural Resources.

Rwanda embarked on planting trees around communities to increase clean air saturation, but implementation of some development activities has seen the natural environment destroyed and no one to blame directly.

Such has been a scenario resulted to wrangles between government organs, local officials and to a larger extent citizens negatively affected in the long run.

For example, Kigali city council was in 2015 caught in a blame game between Rwanda Energy Group and Rwanda Natural Resources Authority over trees which were cut down while installing power lines, without expertise consultation from the environment authorities.

“We need both trees and electricity but the problem is when there is no consultations before such activities create colliding interests” Adrie Mukashema, an official with the forestry department said then.

This is one of scenario of poor management and coordination will come to an end after the ministry of Natural Resources (Minirena) tabled a new bill in parliament to have the RNRA dissolved into three separate autonomous organs.

Dissolving RNRA means that there will emerge an institution in charge of mines, petroleum and gas; water and forests; and land and settlement management.

Minirena minister, Dr. Vincent Biruta, says that the authority has been ineffective because of the span of work load on a single institution.

“We are proposing changes so that there is effectiveness and proper management in each of these areas. This way they will be focused and autonomous” Biruta told parliament to assess the feasibility of the bill.

The question for lawmakers is why this bill was proposed after six years of establishing the authority under the line ministry, and what would this mean for progress needed in environmental protection, benefiting for the discover methane gas in Lake Kivu, and earning from the vast minerals in the country.

“The planning of activities in this institution (RNRA) has been done well but the administration, management of activities has been insufficient especially in land management. We are looking at the changing times especially in mining and forestry- to start benefiting largely from these key areas” Biruta said.

Biruta said for example some of the changes will see management of all government owned forests handed over to the private sector and mining activities given a priority to benefit the community.

To benefit from these areas is not convincing for lawmakers, some have asked that before the bill is discussed in detail, research must be done and key areas of focus given a different approach especially mining, water and gas.

“There is no reason why foreign investors have to continue taking our minerals under the pretext of research. Rwandans need to directly benefit from mining activities, we have expertise and we can do a good job here” said JMV Gatabazi, a lawmaker.

Before tabling the bill in parliamentary committees, for further discussion, lawmakers have demanded that the environment protection aspect should be given priority especially in areas like Ngororero where mining activities have left most hills exposed to landslide and solicit ways to use methane gas in daily lives of Rwandans.

“These institutions should be tasked to be able to do research to find ways of using methane gas in transportation and in homes for cooking” said Evariste Kalisa.

Minister Biruta said that Rwanda is currently working with the University of Colorado and local researchers to ascertain the existence of oil deposits and possibilities of using extracted methane gas locally.

 

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