What you need to know:
- According to traders, Rwanda does not allow Ugandan manufactured goods or agricultural produce to cross its border despite reopening the border in March.
Ugandan goods are still being denied entry into Rwanda three months since the re-opening of the border between the two countries.
According to traders, Rwanda does not allow Ugandan manufactured goods or agricultural produce to cross its border despite reopening the border in March.
“No Ugandan manufactured goods or agricultural produce has ever been allowed to cross into Rwanda. It’s only passenger vehicles and cargo trucks that are carrying transit goods from Kenya that are allowed to cross from Uganda through Katuna/Gatuna border,” the chairperson of Katuna Traders Association, Mr Franko Korinako, told Daily Monitor in an interview on Wednesday.
“Rwandan authorities also discourage their nationals from buying food stuffs from Uganda by imposing on them heavy taxes on every item they return back home with. For example, a Rwandan national that buys a piece of pineapple in Uganda at Shs1,000 is forced to pay a tax of Shs2,000 at the border,” he added.
This, Mr Korinako said, is hindering cross border trade and contravenes the Free Customs Union treaty that was endorsed by the East African countries to trade without any restrictions.
Mr Korinako added that such practice may compel Ugandan traders to resort to smuggling, which President Museveni recently warned them against.
The Rwandan ambassador to Uganda, Mr Joseph Rutabana could not be reached for a comment about the traders’ claims on Wednesday evening as he neither answered our repeated calls nor replied to SMS messages and WhatsApp messages.
Last week, President Museveni warned the people at Katuna border post and Kabale District in general to stop smuggling goods into Rwanda but rather engage in official cross border trade.
Appeal to Museveni
But Mr Enock Kazooba, the chairperson of Ryakarimira Town Council in Kabale District that borders with Rwanda, appealed to Mr Museveni to persuade his Rwandan counterpart, Mr Paul Kagame, to allow local produce from Uganda into his country.
“Opening the border for cargo trucks carrying transit goods from Kenya cannot benefit the border communities that used to derive a livelihood from cross border trade,” said Mr Kazooba.
The chairperson for the clearing agents at Katuna Border Post, Mr Sam Sserwanga, said although blocking the Ugandan local produce has affected general business at Katuna border, they are optimistic that the situation will change for the better.
“On Monday, we held a meeting with the officials from the East African business solutions and they promised us that soon the Ugandan produce will be allowed in Rwanda,” Mr Sserwanga said.
The Uganda Revenue Authority manager for south western region, Mr Peter Gikwiyakare, said he does not know why the Ugandan produce is not allowed in Rwanda but asked the Ugandan traders to respect Rwanda’s customs rules.
The Rwandan government closed its borders with Uganda in March 2019, and stopped its citizens from crossing into the latter on claims that Uganda was a hostile country. It only reopened it’s border in March this year following talks between President Paul Kagame and Major Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.