The Ugandan government has dismissed as untrue, reports by their counterparts from Kigali that the Kampala establishment had in retaliation closed its border stopping Rwandan citizens from accessing it.
In a statement released on Wednesday , the Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said unlike Rwanda that closed their borders and stopped goods coming to Uganda , they had not at any single moment attempted to do the same, noting that since the impasse started over two weeks ago, they have processed over 400 transactions at the Katuna, Cyanika and Mirama Hills border posts.
“What is happening on the ground is that export of Ugandan goods to Rwanda has been prohibited by Rwandan authorities. The same authorities are only allowing crossing into Rwanda, those trucks carrying transit goods destined for Rwanda or transiting through Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places,”Kutesa said in the statement.
“Goods from Rwanda and Rwanda registered trucks are not being allowed to cross over from Rwanda to Uganda by the Rwandan authorities.”
Over a week ago, truck drivers told the Nile Post that they are in a conundrum after being stopped from accessing Rwanda using the Katuna border and that they have to drive for an extra 200 kilometres to be able to use the Kagitumba/Mirama Hills border posts where Rwandan authorities had directed asked them.
“From here (Katuna) to Kigali is only 90 kilometres but moving from here (Katuna) via Mirama to Kigali that the drivers are being asked to use is almost 200 kilometres. It makes it difficult for the drivers to use that route due to logistical issues,” said Samuel Sserwanga, the head of clearing agents at the Katuna border.
At the Cyanika border, drives said fees for clearing trucks had been doubled on the Rwandan side without any clear explanation.
“A truck of maize that usually cost Rwandan Francs 150,000 to be cleared has been increased to 300,000 Rwandan Francs, one for fish rose from 200,000 to 400,000 Rwandan Francs whereas one for cassava which usually cost 140,000 Rwandan Francs has been increased to 280,000 without any proper explanation,”said William Kiwalabye, a driver of a truck carrying fish from Jinja to Gisenyi in Rwanda.
However, in the Ugandan government’s latest statement, Rwandan authorities are accused of introducing an export permit system for traders intending to export goods to Uganda.
“This is a technical and non-tariff barrier to trade to which there has been no successful applicant. In effect, this is a trade embargo on bilateral trade with Uganda.”
According to Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister, their border posts continue to operate normally and are not restricting any movement of goods and people to Rwanda as is the case with the other side of the border.
The statement comes on the heels of a statement by the Kenyan Deputy Vice President, William Ruto who blasted the Kigali establishment for frustrating regional integration by blocking their border.
“We still have incidents of cattle from one country being auctioned in another country because they crossed the border from another country. We also still have a border in one country being blocked by another country in East Africa,” Ruto told delegates during the Africa Now Summit held at the Commonwealth Hotel in Munyonyo under the theme ‘Towards a secure, Integrated and growing Africa’ on Tuesday.
Although he did not directly name any countries, it is highly probable that he was referring to the border dispute between Uganda and Rwanda.
“Really! That makes us really concerned. We should be thinking of how to eliminate work permits and how to integrate the region better,” Ruto said.