25 October 2012

Rwanda: Traders Irked By New Border Restrictions

Photo: Radio Okapi/ Ph. John Bompengo
Trading (file photo): Most of the affected cross-border traders are those dealing in fresh agricultural products.

There is congestion, especially during the evenings, at the DRC border post in Rubavu District as travellers and traders scramble to cross to either side before closure on Congolese side at 6p.m.

Most of the affected cross-border traders are those dealing in fresh agricultural products such as beans, Irish potatoes and other consumables.

For the past three days, vehicles traversing the border have also gradually reduced from approximately 500 to less than 300 a day.

However, there is over flow of traffic in the evening as drivers attempt to beat the crossing deadline, which was abruptly announced on Monday by DRC officials in defiance of an earlier bilateral agreement that had seen the borders open 24 hours between both countries.

Motorcyclists plying the route leading to the border posts have also significantly reduced thereby paralysing transport operations in the vicinity.

There are two border posts linking Rwanda to DRC, namely Petite Barriere and Grande Barriere.

Etienne Gahima, a trader, says its irritating because traders in DRC tend to hike prices in the afternoon.

"It isn't favourable financially," he said.

Hussein Kablingiti, a Kenyan long distance truck driver, finds it inconsiderate to impose abrupt regulations without prior notice.

"Sometimes our travel schedules would require us to cross beyond the stipulated time but it will not be possible. This is an inconvenience," said.

Congolese nationals currently living in Rwanda have strongly criticized the move which they said frustrates business.

"You just cannot understand what is wrong with our leaders. There is no way you expect to solve problems by creating others," noted Faustin Mulumbu, a Congolese trader living in Rubavu town.

They said that senior officials of their government and influential military officers are behind the continuous unstable relations which culminated into the recent border closure.

Mulumbu who deals in second hand clothes grumbled that many other traders like him had already incurred losses since the new border restrictions were imposed.

He lamented that it was already difficult to cross the DRC border in the evening because the immigration offices there are not connected to electricity and now the process has even been made even more tedious.

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