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Africa’s Cleanest City, Kigali, Could Finally Be Saved From Ticking Time Bomb

8 Min Read

Kigali is ranked the cleanest city in Africa because of a disciplined public and cleaning companies operating 24 hours to keep the city clean. However, as the adage goes, not all that glitters is gold.

The cleaner the city becomes the riskier it has become. The city’s only Nduba landfill in Gasabo District, a few miles away from the capital, is about to explode.

Its capacity of about 50 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day has been acceded beyond acceptable levels. Daily municipal solid waste has increased from 142 tonnes in 2006 at Nyanza land fill located in Kicukiro district, before government halted the site and relocated to Nduba in 2012, to 500 tonnes in 2022 with a pupulation of about two million people.

Its emissions, such as gases and an irritating odour are affecting the entire city, especially neighbouring households. Kigali is literary sitting on a ticking time bomb.

Kigali’s solid waste has been a daunting problem under discussion by authorities since 2006. The Auditor General’s annual reports continuously pointed out wasteful expenditure to manage the site. More than Rwf 7.6 billion has been spent managing the site.

The task of contracting a capable firm with expertise to manage the city’s waste has gone through four mayors and three ministers.

Previous efforts to secure a firm through tendering process for over a decade failed due to reported intense interference by government bureaucrats. A successfully executed procurement process was called off even after a successful bidder had been notified.

Taarifa has a copy of the notice.

Sotravic Ltd, one of Mauritius’s leading Engineering, Contracting and Services companies in a joint venture with Horizon LTD of Rwanda had won the tender.

The cause of the cancellation remained a mystery. No official communication was made despite repeated efforts by the bidder to seek clarification until the tender was re-advertised six years later.

A second tender was issued in February last year. Two of the initial bidders resubmitted their proposals and a successful bidder will be announced by the end of February 2023.

“It’s true that City of Kigali is contracting a company for Nduba landfill. Potential firms have been identified and notified, “Clare Akamanzi, RDB CEO, Told Taarifa on Monday evening. However, she added that “the procurement process is under final stages which we expect to end by February 28.”

She was hesitant to disclose more details. “Until then it is premature for City of Kigali or RDB to give details of procurement processes that is not public information.”

Taarifa learnt from trusted sources that the successful bidder, who is not yet notified, is Sotravic Ltd, again, but this time they submitted their proposals without any joint venture.

Neither RDB nor CoK could confirm or dismiss Sotravic Ltd to us as the successful bidder.

What we know

On October 18, 2022, a Steering Committee meeting chaired by the Minister of State in charge of the National Treasury, Richard Tushabe, discussed the evaluation report of bids for the construction and management of Nduba Landfill among other topics.

Due to an issue of poor waste management in the City of Kigali, including environmental repercussions, a feasibility study was conducted to resolve the problem. One of the recommendations was to construct a sanitary landfill and a solid waste recycling center, dubbed “Kigali Waste to Energy Project”.

A contractor would invest in the project and recoup from waste recycling fees and energy production to be sold to government at an agreeable price.

Subsequently, the City of Kigali submitted a tender for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project.

Four companies bided for the project, and only two, Mota Engil, a Portuguese group in the sectors of civil construction, public works, port operations, waste, water, and logistics, in a joint venture with Parklane Products Development Ltd, a UK firm, and Sotravic Ltd were successful.

Swiss Green Products Distribution and Smart City Swiss did not qualify.  

Notably, the committee was informed that “during the re-evaluation phase, Mota Engil, a joint venture with Parklane Products Development Ltd, scored 86.6% and Sotravic Ltd scored 82.6% in the administration and technical evaluation respectively.”

The costs were calculated using the estimated total quantity of waste to be received for the duration of the contract as per the feasibility study and the unit cost per tonne provided by each bidder.

Mota Engil joint venture with Parklane Products Development Ltd quoted US$56 per tonne of waste received at the landfill for 20 years. This means that by the end of the 20 years, the City of Kigali will have paid US$550,795,112.

Sotravic Ltd provided the cost of one-tonne in phases ranging from US$13 to US$36 where the average cost is US$28.7. This means that by the end of the 20 years, the City of Kigali will have paid an estimated US$273,430,431 or about 50% of what Mota Engil was charging.

After the meeting, the committee approved Sotravic Ltd as the successful bidder in principle, but subject to technical due diligence, including verifying whether the type of green technology proposed by City of Kigali has been used previously by Sotravic Ltd on similar projects.

Meanwhile, trusted sources well conversant with the project alleged that invisible hands have been trying to interfere with the procurement process, conniving with technicians to ether re-tender in preparation for awarding the tender to another company or hand pick a favoured firm.

Meddling included using our diplomatic missions to provide any negative information about the company that won the tender.

A note verbale from a diplomatic mission seen by Taarifa alleged that Sotravic Ltd has a bad reputation in Mauritius. Evidence provided were two articles, which we have seen. They are absolutely irreverent, and cannot constitute irrefutable substance to cancel the tender or dismiss the successful bidder,” a representative of Sotravic Ltd said.

Sources say that the finally the meddling was detected by different institutions involved in the project. Those involved in “covert operation” halted their moves because information had leaked that there was interference in the procurement process.

 “But anything is possible, the stakes are high and those involved are very powerful individuals and protected,” our sources say.

When asked about these allegations and causes of the delay of the project, City authorities declined to comment. Even the Mayor, Pudence Rubingisa, could not respond to our queries.  

However, RDB’s CEO, said that she is not aware of the meddling, but said that, “What I can confirm is that we are very close to identifying a firm that will help address this need.”

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