Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The East African Community Secretariat has applauded the leadership and governments of Rwanda and Uganda for committing to re-opening the Gatuna-Katuna border post.
This comes after the Rwandan government resolved to re-open its border with Uganda, on January 31, 2022, almost three years after its closure. The border was closed on February 27, 2019.
At the time of its closure, Rwandan President Paul Kagame accused Ugandan authorities of spying on his government, abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas, as well as hosting and facilitating dissidents who have declared war on the Kigali administration. Rwanda then issued a travel advisory to its nationals against travelling to Uganda, saying their safety was not guaranteed.
But on Friday morning, Rwanda announced that the border will be reopened, an announcement that came in the aftermath of a visit to Rwanda by Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Operations and Commander Land Forces, and another by Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Adonia Ayebare.
EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki has hailed the move terming it as a boost to regional integration, noting that strengthening bilateral ties between the two EAC partner states will revitalize social, economic and political relations.
“Reopening this strategic trade route is in line with the provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol and is set to accelerate economic and social development of the partner states by reviving the free movement of goods, persons, capital and labour,” said Mathuki.
Dr Mathuki said that the re-opening of the border would also promote peace and security across the region. “The move is a reflection of the deep commitment and existing goodwill among the EAC Heads of State to widen and deepen cooperation in the bloc, particularly as the Community expands with the anticipated entry of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.
He further said that the Community was committed to supporting initiatives that promote regional integration within East Africa, adding that the secretariat was ready to provide any technical support that may be required to ensure the sustainability of the movement of goods and services across all the borders.
The re-opening of the border is expected to spark social activities and also benefit the informal cross-border traders who rely on the two partner states for the supply and market of their goods. It will also fast-track the operationalization of the Gatuna-Katuna One-Stop Border Post, expedite the free movement of goods and persons, and in turn, reduce the cost of doing business across East Africa.