Uganda issues travel advisory to drivers as border row with Rwanda rages on

 

March 08, 2019

 

By KENNETH KAZIBWE. Nile Post

 

The Uganda government has advised Ugandans and transit goods drivers intending to travel to Rwanda on what to do as the border impasse continues.

For the past one week or so, truck drivers have been stuck after Rwanda decided to close the Katuna border with Uganda and subsequently, a number of other borders have been closed to truck drivers.

In an advisory issued on Thursday evening, the Ugandan Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde asked truck drivers for goods destined for Rwanda to use the Mirama Hills border in Ntungamo and the Cyanika border in Kisoro district.

“Goods destined to Rwanda from Uganda consider exiting into Rwanda via Mirama Hills and Cyanika customs border posts. Goods transiting via Rwanda consider utilizing the Cyanika customs border post,” reads in part the travel advisory by Minister Kyambadde.

According to the travel advisory, goods in the Ugandan territory destined for DRC should consider exiting via border posts shared between Uganda and DRC.

Initially, most of the goods destined for DRC from Uganda first went to Kigali before heading to DRC.

The travel advisory comes on the heels truck drivers who cried foul over the impasse.

“For three days we have been stuck here but fish is soon getting spoilt. We now don’t know what to do next,” Sam Baligwa, a driver of a truck carrying fish worth shs30 million that was destined for DRC.

The drivers who were stuck at the Katuna border said they were in a conundrum after being asked to return and use Mirama Hills in Ntungamo district which is many kilometres away.

“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,” Samuel Sserwanga, the head of clearing agents at the Katuna border.

According to officials at Katuna, vehicles already cleared to use the closed border now have to be removed from the system before they use another alternative border as asked by counterparts from Rwanda.

“The problem with using another border is that we have to remove the trucks that have already been cleared from our records and it’s another logistical nightmare that we are to face,” said Emmanuel Bamanya, the in charge for the customs teams at Katuna who noted they had cleared over 50 trucks out of the 130 at the border and they were destined for Kigali when they were stopped.

At the Cyanika border, where some of the trucks have been asked to use, the situation by early this week was the same with a number of vehicles parked on the Ugandan side.

Drivers told the Nile Post that fees for clearing trucks have 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.

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