Construction regulation needs to be efficient in order to avoid excessive constraints on a sector that plays an important part in every economy.
Where complying with building regulations is excessively costly in time and money, many resort to paying bribes to pass inspections or simply build illegally, leading to hazardous construction that puts public safety at risk. Where compliance is simple, straightforward and inexpensive, everyone is better off.
In Rwanda, obtaining construction permits requires less than 30 days. This means at times, people get permits even in ten days depending on complexity of the project.
In line with easing doing business and improving service delivery, the City of Kigali and the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) in collaboration with the Rwanda Investment Climate Reform Program (RICRP3) of the World Bank Group, last month upgraded the previous online Construction Management Information System (CPMIS) to a Building Permitting Management Information System (BPMIS) for the City of Kigali and its districts (Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge).
The City of Kigali has been using the CPMIS since its launch in May 2013, yet in order to adopt and integrate new features such as e-payment, a link to the Land Administration Information System, streamlining inspections and notifications, it was necessary to migrate to the BPMIS.
In addition, it is possible today to obtain both an occupation permit and freehold title in a single application which previously was done separately.
In the past, it used to take at least 30 days for an applicant to get an occupation permit and a freehold title. With the current reform, the two documents can be issued at the same time, and it is now done in less than 3 days.
Tushabe noted that before, people would request for the occupancy permit and wait until the Lands Centre processed the free hold title. Now that the two systems are connected, it is automatic.
This has contributed to improved investor confidence as investors can obtain a freehold title in a short time which boosts real estate business and increases the value to the property since a property with a freehold title is more valuable (for example when applying for a loan from a bank) than a lease hold title.
The Building Permitting Management Information System (BPMIS) has already been launched and been deployed in four secondary cities (Musanze, Rubavu, Huye and Rusizi) with Muhanga and Nyagatare coming up before end of May, 2017..
Didier Sagashya, the Executive Secretary of the City of Kigali, pointed out that the new platform will ease doing business in the construction industry as it addresses challenges that affected the performance of the old system.
“It will shorten the time required for one-stop centres to assess, approve and report on permit applications and efficiently provide feedback on sites and plot inspections,” he noted.
RHA and CoK cooperated with the WBG/IFC through the Investment Climate Reform Program in Rwanda to design, test and deploy the system. The objective of the project was to make available a single online BPMIS to serve all districts in order to facilitate the urbanization process and reduce the number of days and cost to obtain permits by at least 10% (based on results in City of Kigali)
The BPMIS is expected to deliver permitting services in a transparent and harmonized manner. In addition, the system will reduce the time and resources needed by applicants to access permitting services, as they will now be able to track the progress of their applications online and through SMS and email notifications.
This initiative will attract more investors in the construction industry and will boost their trust and confidence in the services delivered by the permitting and inspection entities. The BPMIS will enhance the accountability of staff dealing with permitting and will provide a helping hand in reducing informal settlements.
The online system will also contribute tow the promotion of a paperless and cashless economy through the reduction of paper procedures and the use of E-payment systems through Irembo. It will also store data at the national data centre for efficient and secure archiving.