Border closure biting Rwanda hard, says Kabale RDC

Tuesday March 5 2019

Border check. A Rwandan security officer

Border check. A Rwandan security officer inspects a vehicle from the Ugandan side at Cyanika border post. PHOTO BY ROBERT MUHEREZA 

By Robert Muhereza

Kabale. Rwanda’s sudden decision to shut the Katuna-Gatuna frontier is inflicting harm on its citizens, particularly border residents, who depend on Uganda for food, social services and work, the Kabale Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Darius Nandinda, has said.

Mr Nandinda said the blockade is a boomerang because Rwandan nationals enjoy freedoms in Uganda, including being employed without work permits.

Kigali on February 28 unexpectedly shut Katuna border and blocked its citizens from Uganda, with its Foreign minister Richard Sezibera citing risk of torture, arrest or detention. Uganda has sinced dismissed those claims.

Mr Nandinda told a press conference in Kabale yesterday that the travel restrictions “shall backfire on them (Rwandans) because they have been beneficiaries of several social services from Uganda.”

“Rwandans in Uganda are as free as Ugandans. Anybody claiming that Rwandans are harassed in Uganda is a liar,” he said, adding: “The Rwandans denying their nationals entry into Uganda is their right, though it is biting them hard.”

The RDC dismissed allegations that UPDF was already massing troops at the border with Rwanda, saying “there is no security threat to warrant the deployment of the soldiers on our borders with Rwanda.”
Mr Nandinda appealed to the Ugandans with relatives in Rwanda to always respect the host country’s laws.

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In a separate development, the head of customs at Katuna border post, Mr Emmanuel Bamanya, said cross-border bus services resumed on Sunday after some of the stranded cargo on the no-man’s land were shifted to create space.

Eight buses from Rwanda and two buses from Uganda crossed the border.
“The situation for cargo trucks has remained the same as there is none allowed to cross to Rwanda [via Katuna],” he said.
It was a similar situation at Cyanika border, according to Mr Geoffrey Nombe, the traders’ chairman there.

The mayor for Katuna Town Council, Mr Nelson Nshangabasheija, wondered why the Rwandan authorities allowed the buses to cross to Uganda and continued denying cargo trucks entry into their country.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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