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Katuna border opening worthless-business community

FILE PHOTO: Katuna border

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of the Business Community at the Gatuna-Katuna border post, have expressed dissatisfaction with the partial opening of the border, for heavy trucks crossing from Uganda to Rwanda.

The border, according to the Rwanda Revenue Authority, was opened from June 10 to June 22, 2019, to allow trials for heavy trucks movement and to assess the operationalization of the constructed works and equipment at the Gatuna One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

However, members of the business community say that Rwanda is sending a mixed signal because even after re-opening the border, it is still restricting its nationals from coming into Uganda.

This after the New Times Rwanda quoted Richard Sezibera, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation saying that the advisory against travelling to Uganda, still stands for all Rwanda Nationals, despite the partial opening of the border.  But Businessmen say that this is not solving the problem of crippled business.

Onesmas Ahimbisibwe, a money changer at the border post says that the partial opening of the border has not created any positive impact since tension is still high among two countries.

Gilbert Byaruhanga, a dealer in general merchandise says that the pronouncements of partially reopening the order tantamount to pretence and mockery to Uganda.  Byaruhanga says that it is useless to open a border and continue restricting Rwandan nationals from crossing into Uganda.

Peter Niwagaba, another businessman dealing in energy drinks says that Rwandan authorities should fully open the border and allow Rwandan nationals to freely cross into Uganda for the betterment of business resurrection.  Niwagaba says that he was forced to return most of his products to the suppliers after a reduction in demand.

Nelson Nsangangabasheija, the LCIII Chairman of Katuna Town Council says that the partial opening of the border may not resurrect businesses, some of which are on the verge of collapsing.

However, Michael Basiside, a trailer driver transporting soap from Mombasa to Kigali welcomed the partial opening of the border saying that driving to Kigali through Mirama hills is costly and exhausting.

However, a source from Kigali and at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Katuna customs told our reporter that cargo trucks from Uganda to Rwanda are still being blocked.

Similarly, Michael Seed, the Vice Chairperson of Katuna border Clearing Agents’ Fraternity told our reporter that, they have not cleared or any cargo truck destined for Rwanda, since Monday, mainly due to a ban imposed on Uganda’s exports.

Seed says that they have only managed to clear two trucks carrying Cassava from Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo via Kigali, seven cargo trucks from Mombasa heading to Kigali, and ten empty cargo trucks crossing from Rwanda heading to Mombasa.

Uganda has openly been on tension with Rwanda since February 27, 2019, after Rwanda closed its borders, to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs post at Gatuna border.  Rwanda advised truck drivers destined to Kigali to use Kagitumba border via Mirama Hills.   However, Rwandan officials including President, Paul Kagame later accused Ugandan authorities of abducting its citizens and locking them up in ungazetted areas.

Rwanda also accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially Rwanda National Congress-RNC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda FDLR, which have declared war on the Kigali government.  Rwanda advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda, saying it can’t guarantee their safety. Rwanda also deployed security officials and destroyed all temporary bridges to bar Rwandans from crossing to Uganda.

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