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Bus transport business hit hard by changes at Rwanda border

Buses at a park in Kampala. The Kigali route has been hit by new restrictions

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Trinity Bus Company has resumed service across the Uganda-Rwanda border, but are struggling due to new restrictions.

A Trinity Bus official told our reporter on condition of anonymity that they were allowed by security and Rwanda Revenue Authority officials to cross from Rwanda to Uganda via Katuna border on Monday, on condition that they carried no Rwandans to Uganda.

Gideon Ashaba, the booking officer with Jaguar Bus Company says that security and RRA officials are conducting thorough checks in all buses and those carrying Rwandan nationals to Uganda are fined $5000 (18 million Shillings).

Ashaba told URN that only 15 passengers had been cleared to travel from Kigali to Uganda by midday today. He adds that because most of their clients were Rwandan nationals, bus companies are now suffering huge losses as a result of the directive.

Passenger buses from Uganda have been allowed travel from Kigali through the Katuna border in Kabale District and Chanika in Kisoro District . Apart from Jaguar and Trinity, other Bus companies like Modern Coast, Volcano, Mash POA and Simba are yet to resume business.

The directive corresponds with a tweet by Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Richard Sezibera indicating that Rwandans are strongly advised not to travel to Uganda due to ongoing arrests, harassment, and torture.

Katuna Town council Chairperson Nelson Nshangabashaija says that even Rwandan nationals who were crossing to Katuna to buy food for survival have been blocked by Rwandan security officials. He adds that the situation at the border is still tense.

Rwanda has over the last one week blocked cargo trucks and buses from crossing through the two points of entry, reportedly to pave way for upgrading the One Stop Border Post at Gatuna.  The trucks were advised to use Mirama/Kagitumba border in Ntungamo district, a directive which paralyzed business and transport across the borderline.

On Saturday, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) increased tariffs for every truck crossing Via Chanika from Rwanda Francs 200,000 (816,000 Shillings) to Rwanda Francs 400,000 (1,632,000 Shillings). Now, the bus operators say that they have been allowed to cross to and from Rwanda since Sunday evening but on different and tougher terms.



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