Country is now open, resume business -  Museveni

President Museveni (centre) with other officials tour the Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Border  market in Kasese District on December 21, 2022. PHOTO /PPU

What you need to know:

  • Mpondwe One Stop Border Post becomes the eighth one stop border post after Malaba, Mutukula, Lwakhakha, Elegu, Katuna, Mirama Hills and Ntoroko also set only waiting to be commissioned. Two more are under construction, including Suam River one stop border post in Bukwo District on the border with Kenya. According to Kasese District officials, the Mpondwe border market is a game changer for the town council that has been struggling with local revenue collections.

President Museveni has urged Ugandans, especially in markets, to get back to business now that the country has been fully opened. 
The President said people now only need to be fully vaccinated and not to worry so much about Covid-19 while in public places.
“The reason we had stopped markets was because of Corona but a few weeks ago, I made a national address and said we had opened the country and we are now emphasising immunisation. So, the border is now open, our emphasis is now on immunisation,” President Museveni said yesterday.

He was addressing crowds at the Mpondwe Uganda-DR Congo border shortly after commissioning phase one of the Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Border Export Zone (Market) and Mpondwe One Stop Border Post in Kasese District.
The Shs5 billion-facility funded by the World Bank through Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project is meant to enable cross-border trade by increasing the capacity for commerce and reducing the costs faced by traders, especially small-scale and women traders.

“The market which we launched down there must be used now,” the President said, adding that crossing within East African countries should be cost-free with no visas required. 
“If that is the case, I have removed it,” Mr Museveni said after an outcry raised by Kasese chairperson Eliphaz Muhindi Bukombi that trade between Uganda and DRC has been affected by restrictions such as visa fees in dollars equivalent to Shs10,000 for Ugandans to cross into the neighbouring country. He said this affected mostly the fish market which has since shifted.
“For purposes of promoting modern trade and in the spirit of the East African Community, we request that you liaise with your counterpart, the President of the DRC, Mr Felix Tshisekedi, to allow Ugandans free entry in order to facilitate business,” Mr Muhindi said.

The President assured continued peace to the people of Kasese and Rwenzori region and thanked Mr Tshisekedi for agreeing to work with Uganda to clear the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels out of Congo.
“The ADF should surrender peacefully because we are going to finish them. Wherever they go, we shall find them if the Congo government allows us because there’s nowhere we cannot reach,” Mr Museveni said.
The State Minister for ICT, Mr Godfrey  Kabyanga, earlier described UPDF’s deployment in DRC as the best thing that has happened in recent times.
“We have families and relatives in DRC and when we hear that the ADF has killed 200 people, we believe that every person in Kasese has lost a relative,” Mr Kabyanga said.

The President further urged the people of Kasese to listen to his message of wealth creation by engaging in four sectors namely; commercial agriculture with Ekibalo - calculation, industry (Manufacturing), services and information communication technology (ICT).
On commercial agriculture,  Mr Museveni emphasised the seven activities for people with small portions of land (four acres and below) on account of high returns per acre, per annum.

He recommended one acre for clonal coffee, one acre for fruits (mangoes, oranges and pineapples- and berries for those in Kasese mountains), one acre for food crops for the family (cassava, bananas, upland rice or irrigation rice, Irish potatoes, sorghum or millet) and the fourth acre for pasture for dairy cattle (eight of them), poultry for eggs in the backyard piggery, and fish farming.
The President reiterated that families with six acres and above can use four  acres for coffee, fruits, food crops, dairy farming, pigs, poultry, fish-farming). 
They can also produce low value crops such as sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, maize, etc and on the other two acres in addition to the high value activities.

“This is the medicine we put for you in the manifesto of 1986 but people don’t listen. When I was coming here, I saw people growing cotton. Once you stabilise agriculture in the families everything will be easy,”  Mr Museveni said.
He cautioned them against the wrong method of physical land fragmentation, saying it discourages wealth creation
“The land is for production to support the family but also support the country. So, if you’re going to die, children must benefit from the land by shares not physically fragmenting it,” he said.
On infrastructure, the President promised to work on the road from Kikorongo to Mpondwe border.

The State Minister for Trade, Ms Harriet Ntabazi, said more 18 markets of this nature would be constructed to counter the barriers of trade between Uganda and other East African countries.
“Your Excellency, we thank you for this Christmas gift that you have given us and we shall jointly work together to ensure that this market benefits the people of Uganda and East Africa,”  she said.
According to the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ms Geraldine Ssali, the market and the one stop border post will see an increase in regional market exports.

The commissioner general of Uganda Revenue Authority, Mr John Musinguzi, described the event as a testimony that there is growing business between Uganda and DRC and all government agencies will have to work together to facilitate trade between both countries.
Uganda’s trade with DRC has progressed over the years with the country’s export to DRC now amounting to more than $300m (Shs1.09 trillion).