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Uganda: Mirama border comes to life as Katuna, Cyanika posts remain closed

While the movement of Rwandans into Uganda is still restricted at the Mirama Hills/ Kagitumba Uganda-Rwanda border, the inflow of trucks has generally increased following the closure of Katuna and Cyanika border posts.

Several trucks are parked in Ntungamo town 37 kilometres away from the border due to the long queue on Kagitumba border awaiting clearance to transport goods to Rwanda. However, only a few trucks are coming from the side of Rwanda to Uganda.

“We have been clearing on average 40 trucks a day, but now we clear more than 250 daily since the other posts are closed.

The government invested too much in constructing this one-stop border post and clearing only 40 meant that it was not performing as expected.

I think this is a blessing in disguise for this border and people living around it,” Mr Ali Kakande, the clearing agent at Kagitumba border, said on Monday.

Residents of villages around this border say the border is busier than it has ever been in the past 20 years, but there is no business going on apart from clearance.

“When you allow trucks to move and the people’s movement is limited then how do we make business? Rwandans are not allowed to enter Uganda, while us are allowed to enter without interruption there is mutual suspicion that we can avoid too, we can’t take there anything for sale and they can’t cross to get anything,

the border has been deployed with soldiers including on illegal routes, there is no business apart from seeing the trailers which we don’t eat,” Mr Rajab Niwagaba, the Kirama village chairperson says.

According to Mr Niwagaba, people and goods destined for Uganda are restricted and not cleared to enter. He, however, says that those going through Uganda to other countries, for example, Kenya are allowed to cross the border.

He notes that at least 14 taxis have been moving to and from Rwanda daily but since Wednesday none has travelled there.

Mr Edwin Mugabe, a money changer at the station says businessmen are making losses both in Uganda and Rwanda as people’s movement is restricted.

This reporter however learnt that there are some Rwandans crossing the Uganda border ungazetted routes.

“Government is supplying us some food but it can’t be enough for our families. I swear if this goes on, many people will either commit suicide or be killed crossing to Uganda to get food.

My wife is sick and she can’t eat posho, if they kill me crossing I would have died to save my wife at least,” a Rwandese national who illegally crossed to Uganda told this reporter on condition of anonymity.

The Kafunjo-Mirama town council chairperson Mr James Turyahikayo Habineza says the two governments need to resolve the impasse as soon as possible if they really care about the livelihoods of their citizens.

“Some Rwandan children are schooling from here, others are getting food and health care from Uganda. We are brothers and sisters with Rwandans since there has been intermarriage, what if a relative dies and people from either side have to cross to for burial, won’t it be a shame to stop mourners?” he said.

Mr Habineza adds that the border challenges may go a long way in making the borderline insecure like in 1970s and in 1984 when instability was witnessed after several lapses.

“Everyone is worried, while we are being allowed to cross but we can’t be secure crossing.

There has been precedence in the past when such things happen we experience insecurity and at times war, we hope both governments are working hard to have their issues resolved.”

The impasse comes as the Rwandan and Ugandan governments are constructing another border post at Kizinga with more vehicles expected to pass through Rwentobo off Ntungamo-Kabale road joining the Mirama –Kigali high way at Matimba which will be a greater short cut compared to Mirama hills and Katuna.

By Daily Monitor

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