Museveni warns against smuggling

President Museveni addresses hundreds of people that gathered at Katuna border post on Saturday. PHOTO / ROBERT MUHEREZA

What you need to know:

  • The chairman of the traders association at Katuna border post, Mr Franko Korinako, said although the Katuna/Gatuna border was reopened, agricultural produce from Uganda has not been allowed to cross into Rwanda.

President Museveni has asked Ugandans living at the border with Rwanda to desist from smuggling, and instead engage in productive cross border trade.

Mr Museveni was on Saturday evening addressing hundreds of people that gathered at Katuna border post and Kabale main roundabout as he returned from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda.

He arrived at Katuna border post at around 5:55pm and walked from the Uganda customs offices towards excited hundreds of people who had gathered on the road sides to catch a glimpse of him.

“Good evening to you all. Are you still involved in smuggling?  Stop smuggling goods from Uganda into Rwanda,” he warned as locals cheered him up.  “Engage in official cross border trade now that the border is open. Embrace the Parish Development Model (PDM) and the Emyooga government programmes that are aimed at poverty eradication,” Mr Museveni said.

He said the government will soon roll out radio programmes to educate masses on the importance of the Parish Development Model.

Rwanda government closed its borders with Uganda in March 2019 and stopped its citizens from crossing into Uganda on claims that the latter was a hostile country.

The borders were reopened in March this year after the intervention of the Commander of Land Forces, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who doubles as the First Son.

The chairman of the traders association at Katuna border post, Mr Franko Korinako, said although the Katuna/Gatuna border was reopened, agricultural produce from Uganda has not been allowed to cross into Rwanda.

He said the Rwandan government has imposed heavy taxes on its citizens that used to cross into Uganda to purchase household items, thus killing the trade.

“It is only transit goods that cross to Rwanda through the Katuna border. There is no cross border trade because no single Ugandan made products and agricultural produce have been allowed to cross to Rwanda ever since the Rwandan authorities reopened their land borders with Uganda in March.

“We are told that Rwandans that cross into Uganda at Katuna border market are charged Rwandan francs equivalent to Shs20,000 as fine,” Mr Korinako said.

The State Minister Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr David Bahati, said the pending issues will be solved soon.

“We are grateful that Rwandan borders with Uganda were reopened and the small pending issues affecting the cross border trade between the two countries were because of the Covid-19 restrictions,” Mr Bahati said.

He added that a team of ministers from Kigezi Sub-region have started radio programmes to mobilise the community to embrace the PDM.

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