Rwanda shuts 700 churches over poor facilities

The Rwandan government has within the last one week shut down no fewer 714 churches in different parts of its capital city, Kigali.
According to the government, the action became necessary because the facilities where these worshippers meet fail to meet minimum standards.
“The places of worship lacked basic infrastructure, hygiene, safety standards and had issues related to their legal status,” the New Times reported.
The crackdown is being carried out by respective urban district authorities in partnership with the Rwanda Governance Board, the newspaper said.
Defending the action, Justus Kangwagye, the Head of Political Parties and Civil Society Department at the Rwanda Governance Board, said: “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.”
Some may not be able to resume operations any time soon, he added.
Kangwagye said some premises exposed worshipers to risks.
“For instance, if the infrastructure is deemed likely to cause danger to those worshiping, it is obvious that it fails to meet the requirements,” he explained.
Others were found to have inadequacies such as lack of parking lots which would lead to their members parking by the roadsides and causing traffic jam.
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.
Others, he added, were warned on the lack of safety and security installations and asked to look into it or risk closure.
Kangwagye explained that setting up a church, requires a temporary certificate which expires after 12 months.