Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Revenue Authority-URA has strongly advised traders operating along the Uganda-Rwanda border to comply with Rwandan government rules.
The warning comes at a time when Rwanda has fully re-opened its land borders with Uganda. The Rwandan authorities partially reopened the border on January 31st, 2022 until last week when they announced a full reopening this week.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame had closed the borders on February 27, 2019, accusing Uganda of hosting Rwandan dissidents, abducting Rwandan nationals, and locking them in non-designated areas. Rwanda then issued a travel advisory to its nationals against traveling to Uganda, saying their safety was not guaranteed.
At the time, cases of smuggling goods especially food and jelly through porous borders increased. As a result, about five Ugandans were shot dead by Rwandan security operatives on accusations of smuggling.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network at Katuna border on Monday evening, Peter Gikwiyakare, Uganda Revenue Authority Customs Manager in charge of the south-western region said that however much border reopening brings many opportunities for cross border trade and household income improvement, traders must endeavor to comply with requirements set by the Rwandan government.
Gikwiyakare advises that Ugandan traders should always liaise with Ugandan authorities to help them in complying by providing permits. He also says that traders should first conduct a study and regulatory terms and conditions about goods they have before crossing to sell.
Victor Ninyikirizamukama, a resident of the Gicumbi district in Rwanda was found at the Ugandan border side of Katuna. He says that during the impasse period, some people would wake up at 5:00am and stealthily cross to Uganda through a porous border to conduct businesses like car washing. He says that they would fear to cross during the day because culprits risked serving six-month imprisonment in Rwanda for crossing to Uganda and returning back late at night. Ninyikirizamukama says that now that public transport has resumed operations, he hopes to re-join his business of money changing where he would reap bigger.
Honest Tahinduka, a private clearing agent with Transco International Cargo Services says that with the increase of trucks crossing, he hopes that business will revive steadily.
By Monday evening, one public bus belonging to Volcano Bus company had been cleared to cross from Rwanda through Katuna border post.