Local government authorities in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, have suspended activities in 714 churches over noise pollution and failing to meet minimum safety operating standards.
The New Times, a local newspaper, reports that the action is being carried out by respective urban district authorities in partnership with the Rwanda governance board.
Justus Kangwagye, head of political parties and civil society department at the Rwanda governance board, said most of the affected places of worship were asked to halt operations until they meet the expected standards.
“Worshiping should be done in an organised way and meet minimum standards,” he said.
“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.”
He said some premises exposed worshippers to risks, adding that some may not be able to resume operations anytime soon.
“For instance, if the infrastructure is deemed likely to cause danger to those worshiping, it is obvious that it fails to meet the requirements,” Kangwagye said.
“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.
“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”
The country’s government has also issued a warning to churches that make noise and disturb the peace in residential areas.