Katuna, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The 12 days that Rwanda had said it would open its Katuna border with Uganda to test how heavy vehicles will pass through their newly constructed structures, elapsed quietly on Saturday.
On June 10, Rwanda Revenue Authority-RRA announced it was opening the border to help carry out trials for heavy trucks movement on Katuna One-Stop-Border Post for a period of two weeks to 22nd June 2019.
The move was to assess the operationalization of the constructed works and equipment before the inception of works. The move was widely seen as the first step towards the permanent opening of the border.
But the period has elapsed without either party indicating they had solved their issues. Even with the temporary opening, some traders found difficulties crossing and fewer trucks were allowed to go through.
The Katuna border weekly market known as World Market inside Uganda was poorly attended and there was remarkable absence of Rwandans, usually the major customers. They are still not allowed to cross to Uganda.
On the Ugandan side, on June 19, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) installed a mobile cargo scanner at Katuna border post to ensure there are no illegal declarations.
A URA customs official at the border who preferred anonymity says there was a delay to install the scanner because of the recent standoff with Rwanda when authorities closed its Gatuna border post for several months. He said plans to introduce it was started way before the border standoff between the two countries.
The Katuna border was closed in February 2019 in what was interpreted as a result of the row between Uganda and Rwanda. During that time, Ugandan traders were advised to use the Kyanika and Kagitumba border posts to enter Rwanda.
There is fear that the border closure, which has seen Uganda’s export earnings from Rwanda fall by 85%, can even end for years. The Rwanda-Burundi border has been closed now for two years after a standoff between the two countries.