Commuters and car drivers who use the Muhanga-Ngororero-Mukamira highway have shared concerns about the road’s deterioration, which frequently disrupts their daily plans.
The 102.6 km road serves as a crucial link between the Western and Southern Provinces and is the fastest route connecting Kigali and Rubavu, especially in cases where the Kigali-Musanze-Rubavu road is blocked. The sections of the road in Ngororero and Nyabihu districts have notably deteriorated, including areas like Gitega in Ngororero, Jomba, and Gasiza in Nyabihu.
Residents have voiced their concerns about the deteriorating road, which was previously upgraded in 2011 with support from the African Development Fund.
Modeste Tumusenge expressed fears that the road could eventually split in two if immediate action is not taken.
“We need a long-lasting solution for this road, especially the segment between Muramba and Ngororero, which is in dire need of repair. If authorities don’t act soon, we may wake up one day to find the road completely severed,” Tumusenge stated.
He added, “As residents of Muramba, it’s more convenient for us to travel to Kigali via Muhanga than using the Mukamira-Musanze road.”
Cyprien Nteziryayo, who uses this road every weekend, echoed these concerns. “Even though I work in Nyabihu and live in Kigali, I rely on this road for my weekend responsibilities. However, it has deteriorated significantly, and there’s a real risk of it becoming impassable,” he said.
He also highlighted the added cost of using the Musanze route when it rains, making the Muhanga-Ngororero-Mukamira road the more economical option.
“Often, when it rains, I am afraid to travel through Muhanga. I choose to go through Musanze because I hope for a safer road, even though it costs me more compared to the ticket for Kigali-Muhanga-Ngororero.”
The residents have appealed to the authorities to give special attention to this road due to its numerous potholes.
Another anonymous resident mentioned that the road is incredibly stressful, especially during the rainy season when it is often blocked by the Nyabarongo River.
“When the Nyabarongo River blocks the road, it becomes very difficult to travel from Ngororero to Muhanga. We are forced to use short, dusty paths, and it’s impossible to wear good clothes. This often leads to delays.”
In addition to the travelers’ concerns, car drivers also expressed their frustration, stating that the potholes on the road frequently damage their vehicles, making their passengers uncomfortable while traveling on this deteriorated road.
The drivers who spoke to ICK News are Clement Ndayisaba and Froduard Munyandinda who work in the Kivu Belt Company, and Yusufu Uwimanimpaye who works in La Colombe Company.
What they all have in common is that the potholes on the roads cause their cars to be damaged so much that they often end up in garages.
“Someone may takes the car to the garage about three times a week,” Munyankindi said.
Car maintainers (Technicians) have also acknowledged to ICK News that they often receive cases of cars from the above-mentioned road.
Although these technicians say that their interest lies in the damages of vehicles, they all asked the government to build different roads that can be used when it is found that one road is damaged.
Blame the Slope stability -Expert
Eng. Alexis Niyoyigenera, an expert in geotechnical engineering, who teaches Civil Engineering at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional College (IPRC Kigali), stated that the primary issue with the Muhanga-Ngororero-Mukamira road is the failure of slope stability, which leads to frequent landslides.
He explained, “When you examine the condition of the land in that area, considering its location in the highlands with a slope of more than 40 degrees and the frequent rains, the soil loses its shear strength, making landslides possible at any time.”
According to Eng. Niyoyigenera, it is crucial to conduct thorough and detailed design, deep analysis, and research before constructing the road.
This includes assessing the risk of landslides and implementing soil reinforcement using steel or employing storm water management to control water runoff.
“When there is such a risk, it may be more advisable to construct aerial bridges or tunnels, even though it requires significant financial resources,” he added.
He also suggested that more financial resources should be allocated to road construction, particularly in mountainous areas, to enable the use of advanced technologies in building sustainable structures, such as bridges, skyways, and tunnels.
“Using stone walls in areas where rivers flow is not a sustainable method; instead, deep abutments should be constructed,” Eng. Niyoyigenera added.
Regular maintenance of different roads was also emphasized.
Eng. Niyoyigenera highlighted the need to reform the tendering process to ensure the sustainability of roads.
“It’s time for the tendering process to change, and contracts should be awarded to individuals or companies with a proven track record of building infrastructure in a sustainable manner, rather than giving contracts to those who aim to cut costs,” he said.
Imena Munyampenda, the Director-General of Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), acknowledged to ICK News that this road has experienced deterioration in 17 areas, but they hope to rehabilitate it by 2026.
He stated, “The Muhanga-Ngororero-Mukamira road was constructed in 2011 with a design lifespan of 15 years. Therefore, we believe that if funding is secured in 2026, we will fully rehabilitate it. We have submitted three funding requests to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN).”
Munyampenda also mentioned that due to the disasters caused by frequent rains affecting this road, a company has been appointed to carry out its maintenance on a permanent basis to ensure that the road is not closed for extended periods.