Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is uproar among the business community in Katuna border town in Kabale following the decision by Rwanda to close its border about two weeks after reopening it.
On June 10, 2019, Rwanda Revenue Authority-RRA announced it was reopening the border to help carry out trials for heavy trucks through the Gatuna One-Stop-Border Post for a period of two weeks ending June 22, 2019.
This was meant to assess the newly installed equipment before the inception of works. The move was widely seen by the business community as the first step towards the permanent reopening of the border.
However, Rwandan security officials closed Gatuna border around 1am on Sunday and directed all heavy trucks to use Kagitumba-Mirama Hill border as it had been since February 2019. URN toured Katuna border on Sunday afternoon and saw Rwandan police officers deployed at Gatuna border.
He also saw three trucks making a u turn to connect to Rwanda through Mirama hills in Ntungamo district. A security officer told URN on condition of anonymity that the border had been closed because of cracks that have developed on the verandah and behind the compound of Gatuna–One Stop Border post.
He also said Rwanda temporarily opened the border to allow in four Heavy Duty Generators from Mombasa in Kenya destined for Kigali. According to a security source, two of the generators were delivered last week. He says the border was immediately closed after two remaining generators made it through the crossing point.
Residents and truck drivers have condemned the re-closure of the border, saying that it is affecting their business.
Fidelis Mayooli, a truck driver transporting second hand clothes from Mombasa to Kigali, says that he arrived at Katuna on Saturday morning ready to cross but surprised was when Rwandan security officers directed them to drive back to Mirama-Kagitumba border on Sunday morning, saying Katuna-Gatuna border had been closed.
Mayooli says that driving back to Mirama hills is very inconveniencing and tiresome.
Allen Ninsiima, a cloth dealer in Katuna border town, says business had slowly started picking up following the temporary opening of the border. Ninsiima says that she felt angry on Sunday morning when she saw trucks being driven back.
Asaph Atuheire another businessman at Katuna border says he personally saw two trucks from Uganda crossing the border on Saturday night with heavy loads before the border was closed a few hours later.
Atuheire asked President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame to explain to the public why this problem is not ending.
Saleh Baba, a taxi driver along Katuna-Kabale road, says everybody in Katuna is starving due to the border closure.
There has been tension between Uganda and Rwanda since February 27, 2019. It started 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.
They 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.
During the same time, Rwandan citizens were advised against travelling to Uganda, an advisory which was followed with the destruction of all temporary bridges near the border.