25 October 2012

Rwanda: Border Restrictions By DRC Authorities Is a Shortsighted Move

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


The Monday directive to close the DRC-Rwanda border points has garnered negative reaction from citizens residing and working on both sides of the border.

The unilateral move, which goes against the 2010 CEPGL agreement, signed between Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, is a step in the wrong direction. The agreement, which aimed to ease travel and trade between the three countries, proved to be extremely popular with traders and travelers alike.

The move - closing the border at 6p.m - has slowed trade as seen by the drastic fall of cargo vehicles crossing the border. Presently, slightly above 200 trucks cross each day, down from approximately 500 before the directive was made.

This decision is creating gridlock at the border and is delaying the essential movement of goods. Residents of Gisenyi and Goma, the two sister towns, were able to enjoy each other's respective nightlife; but this will no longer be possible.

The restrictions, which the DRC authorities mistakenly think will increase security, will only ratchet up the suspicions and ill feelings between the two countries.

Kinshasa must come to the realisation that acting unilaterally, despite it being their right as a sovereign nation, will only damage relations. Unless diplomatic and multilateral solutions to this region's challenges are accepted by the DRC, peace and prosperity will remain a distant dream.

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