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Uganda: Katuna closure leaves border residents in tears

KABALE. The Kabale District Council chairman, Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, has said the closure of the Rwanda-Uganda border point at Katuna that has paralysed movement of cargo and people across either side has severely hurt the two countries socially and economically and called for speedy resolution of the bilateral conflict.

Mr Keihwa yesterday appealed to the two heads of state to meet and resolve any outstanding issues that led the Rwandan authorities to close their border posts at Gatuna near Kabale and Cyanika near Kisoro District.

He said quick resolution of the conflict will help calm the tension as fear of war grows among the communities on either side of the border.

“Socially, Rwandan and Ugandan nationals living in the border communities being relatives because of intermarriages, the current restriction of Rwandan nationals from entering Uganda is a big problem.

Unless such restriction is waived, relatives across the two countries will not visit each other despite having social functions like parties and funeral ceremonies.

Economically, Uganda has lost the market for its locally produced goods while Rwandans have faced a problem in getting their desired agricultural products and manufactured goods they have been enjoying before their movement into Uganda was restricted,” Mr Keihwa observed.

Kisoro District Local Council chairman, Mr Abel Bizimana, shared the same view on the economic impact. He said days for open markets in Kisoro on Mondays and Thursdays are now dull since Rwanda closed its border to Ugandan cargo and restricted her nationals from entering Uganda.

“Whereas we do not get a lot of goods from Rwanda, their nationals have been providing ready market for Ugandan manufactured goods and agricultural products,” Mr Bizimana noted.

The mayor of Katuna border Town Council, Mr Nelson Nshangabasheija, said locally manufactured goods exported to Rwanda through the closed border include oil products, cement, iron bars, domestic items and agricultural products.

He said Uganda also has been importing from Rwanda hides and skins and scrap metal materials. “The fact that Katuna border has been a major exit for about 400 vehicles every day, Katuna Town Council has been a major beneficiary because the occupants of those vehicles were providing ready market for the foods in the hotels at the border post.

Others were hiring accommodation as they wait for the processing of their travel documents. The markets in Katuna have been greatly affected by the border restriction because Rwandans have been providing market for local agricultural products,” he said.

The chairman of the business community at Kyanika border post, Mr Geoffrey Barore Nombe, said industrial goods such as cement, fertilizers, soft drinks and agricultural products like Irish potatoes are the main products exported to Rwanda through the border.’

By Daily Monitor

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