It was widely feared that Kigali city was fast turning into a den of corruption just like any other African city.
Over the course of several years, there has been reports of cases of frustrated city investors failing to attain construction permits.
Kigali city investors, it was reported, talked in hushed tones of demands by city officers for hefty bribes before their requests for construction permits could be considered.
That was just part of the story.
There are well known cases of inefficiency by the subsequent city administrators.
The issue of sustainable waste management continued to dodge Kigali for more than 15 years.
More than 5 city mayors were elected and voted out of office while the old story of waste management went from bad to worse, from Aisha Kirabo, Fidel Ndayisaba, Pascal Nyamulinda, Chantal Rwakazina and now Pudence Rubingisa.
The open landfill at Nduba in Gasabo district continues to be one of the most ashaming eyesores for a city that prides itself as the cleanest and greenest in Africa.
Why clean the entire city every day then have no sustainable solution to manage the collected waste?
The issue here is that so far, the city authorities have been unable to develop a credible solution to have Rwanda’s capital to have in place a new sanitary landfill built to highest internationally acceptable standards meant to enable the city to operate sustainable way to collect and dispose of its waste.
The city is growing so is its waste streams.
It is estimated that the city generates more than 1,000 tons of waste per day and this is growing by more than 35% annually.
Another major issue is mass affordable housing for the city dwellers.
Statistics indicate that over 75% of Kigali city residents live in unplanned settlements.
The pounding rains have exposed the city, whose bulk of residents live in settlements that are weak and are rendered unable to cope up with vagaries of weather.
Managing city waste is not rocket science. Funding has never been the problem, not even expertise, but a mere lack of clinical executors.
In addition, there is huge demand for affordable housing estimated at more than 50,00 units annually and growing at more than 25% annually.
In a nutshell, the mismatch in terms of quality and quantity of housing in Kigali, in terms of demand and supply, is not acceptable for a city that positions itself as the cleanest and most organized in Africa.
There is an urgent need by the city authorities to take the leadership and be at the forefront to construct city council houses in sufficient stocks for the masses as is the case in any modern city of the world.
For that to happen there is need to have in place a completely new mindset of how city affairs are run.
Sigh of relief for city dwellers
And so, it came as a deep relief when government announced a radical reform of the city administration.
Last year, government set in motion a plan that was meant to usher in the changes.
The new changes climaxed with appointment early this month by the Prime Minister, Dr. Édouard Ngirente, of new leaders for the city after parliament approved the new system.
In the new reforms the previous administrative units of Kicukiro, Gasabo and Nyarugenge have now been brought under a single unit being administered centrally rather than autonomously.
The objective is of course to foster efficiency and curb vices such as corruption and other forms of rot that started to eat into the city system of administration.
A major highlight of the change is creation of the city manager.
The holder of this office is the substantive CEO of the city.
The current City Mayor, Pudence Rubingisa, now takes a backseat in terms of the day to day operations of the city administration.
Mayor Rubingisa, unlike his predecessors, is more like a Non-executive Chairman of the board of directors of a company in a modern corporate set up.
There is a major shift in gears on how power is administered in Kigali.
The City Manager therefore is an office that holds much more powers than the city Executive Secretary.
The new changes is perhaps in line with commonwealth practices where the city clerk runs the show while the mayor is more ceremonial head of the city.
Julian Rugaza is the City Manager while Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa is the new City Engineer.
Joseph Niyongabo, is Director General of Corporate Services while Marie Solange Muhirwa is Chief of Urban Planning.
Jean Rubangutsangabo is City Economist.
At the lower levels , Pauline Umwali is Gasabo District Administrator deputized by Régis Mudaheranwa.
Solange Umutesi is Kicukiro District Administrator deputized by Adalbert Rukebanuka.
Emmy Ngabonziza is Nyarugenge district administrator deputized by Espérance Nshutiraguma.
The previous holders of the offices of city mayors in the 3 districts have been sent packing.