Not less than 714 churches in different parts of Rwanda’s Kigali over the last one week have been shut down for failure to meet minimum standards outlined by Rwandans Government.
The churches were found to lack basic infrastructure, hygiene, safety standards and had issues related to their legal status.
The initiative is being carried out by respective urban district authorities in partnership with the Rwanda Governance Board, New Times of Rwanda reports.
The Head of Political Parties and Civil Society Department at the Rwanda Governance Board, Justus Kangwagye, stated that places of worship are required to meet basic requirements in terms of safety, hygiene, infrastructure, and legality which those affected were found to be lacking. He added that the places of worship affected by this bill were asked to halt operations until they meet the expected standards.
In his words;
“Worshiping should be done in an organised way and meet minimum standards. Exercising your freedom of worship should not encroach on other people’s rights. They have been asked to halt operations until they meet the requirements.
“For instance, if the infrastructure is deemed likely to cause danger to those worshipping, it is obvious that it fails to meet the requirements,” he explained.
Others problems included lack of parking lots which led to members’ parking by the roadsides and causing gridlock. Other churches which were closed operated from tents. ” Churches that are hosted in tents were also asked to review their premises before they can continue their operations.
As for hygiene and sanitation, you cannot have a gathering where there is no water for washing hands, no toilets among other issues,” he said.
Kangwagye explained that setting up a church requires a temporary certificate which expires after 12 months.