6 industrial parks under scrutiny for pollution

Aerial view of Kigali Special Economic Zone Phase in Gasabo District. MPs have raised concerns that that buffer zones around six industrial parks are not respected.

There is a need for an environmental audit (EA) for six industrial parks suspected of pollution as they did not conduct an environmental impact assessment before being established, Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) noted.

An environmental impact assessment is a tool used to assess the significant effects of a project or development proposal on the environment before starting.

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The call for an environmental audit came after Members of Parliament (MPs) summoned the Minister of Trade and Industry, Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, to provide explanations regarding issues on the development of industrial parks in the country.

During field visits conducted in 2023, MPs said, the assessment noted that buffer zones around six industrial parks, namely; Kigali Special Economic Zone Phase II, Huye, Kicukiro, Muhanga, Rwamagana and Rusizi industrial parks are not respected.

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Some of the highlighted issues include the approval of industrial park sites without prior environmental impact assessments.

There are 11 designated industrial parks for development, such as the Kigali Special Economic Zone, Bugesera Special Economic Zone, Huye, Nyabihu, Rusizi, Muhanga, Nyagatare, Rubavu, Musanze, Rwamagana industrial parks and Kicukiro SME Park.

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According to the Auditor General’s report and MPs’ assessment, in 2023, buffer zones around industrial parks were not respected, calling for the “creation of buffer zones around the industrial park to protect citizens from pollution.”

Light industries are required to have a buffer zone of at least 50 metres, general industries of at least 100 metres, factories of at least 500 metres and special industries of at least one kilometre between their boundaries and the nearest residential building.

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“As a result, residents live in close proximity to the established industries which increases the risk of negative impacts on the health, environment, safety, and well-being of neighbouring communities. This was due to ineffective coordination among districts, MINICOM and RDB in industrial park development as their roles and responsibilities were not well coordinated,” the report indicated.

According to MPs, waste water was being discharged into surrounding wetlands such as Nyandungu wetland yet it must be treated first.

Remy Norbert Duhuze, Water Monitoring and Quality Control Division Manager at Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB), told The New Times that all projects within should have complied with Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) before starting.

“If there are any projects that have not done an environmental impact assessment before starting, they should at least now conduct an environmental audit to assess their compliance with regulations and standards, including their impact on water resources. The environmental audit proposes measures in case of non-compliance,” he said.

Faustin Munyazikwiye, Deputy Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), reiterated the need for an environmental audit for projects that did not comply with the environmental impact assessment before starting.

“The law stipulates that they have to conduct an environmental audit. The gaps should be fixed. Some gaps first need studies to be fixed while others should be immediately fixed to avoid worsening the issues,” he said.

Minister Ngabitsinze explained that some industrial parks were established before the environmental impact assessment became mandatory.

“Some industrial parks were established when the environmental impact assessment was not mandatory. There is a need for improvement in treating waste water from industrial parks. In partnership with WASAC, studies are being conducted,” he said.

Src: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/article/15015/news/environment/6-industrial-parks-under-scrutiny-for-pollution


Michel Nkurunziza


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