The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda Sees Traffic Influx As Uganda Closes Border With DRC

There is an over flow of traffic at the Rwanda-Uganda border at Cyanika following a decision by the Ugandan government to close Bunagana border post with DR Congo.

The abrupt closure has seen Ugandan traders lose hundreds of millions of revenue through trade with eastern DRC

The closure was triggered by reports by the DRC government that the M23 rebels were levying taxes on trucks from Uganda.

Immigration authorities say that the number of vehicles crossing over has increased three-fold the usual routine.

"There is a general increase in traffic flow for the past few days since Uganda's border with DRC was closed down," an immigration official said but declined to be mentioned because he is not authorised to speak to the press.

He said most vehicles crossing the border included trucks to DR Congo carrying merchandise.

"Most passengers especially traders have resorted to using this route because it's the quickest way to reach their destination," he said.

From Uganda, one can go through Cyanika via Musanze and then reach DRC through Rubavu district to Goma, the provincial capital of Kivu in eastern DRC.

The abrupt closure has seen Ugandan traders lose hundreds of millions of revenue through trade with eastern DRC.

Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Cooperation, Asuman Kiyingi, Wednesday explained that Uganda closed its border with the DRC on Tuesday, in the spirit of finding a lasting solution to the conflict in the eastern part of the country.

Kiyingi said in a press statement that the closure followed a request by DRC President Joseph Kabila to President Yoweri Museveni last month that M23 rebels were taking advantage of the open border point at Bunagana to collect revenue from cargo vehicles and other goods.

Kabila's message was delivered to President Museveni through the DRC President's Special Envoy Raymond Tshibanda N'tunga Mulongo, who is also the Congolese Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"Upon receiving the request, President Museveni informed the Special Envoy that Uganda would consider closure of the border post upon receiving a formal and written request from President Kabila, indicating that the Government of the DRC would take responsibility for any negative impact on the humanitarian situation as result of closing the border," Kiyingi added.

According to Kiyingi, the DRC government made a formal request on October 30 to President Museveni reassuring him that, the closure of the border post will not affect the lives of the civilian population in Bunagana, in spite of the conflict.

"Further to that, the movement of the people, goods and supplies of basic needs to the population will continue without restriction to Rutshuru territory as well as between the latter and the city of Goma," the Minister added.

Uganda, Kiyingi explained, took a decision to close Bunagana border post in order to positively respond to the concerns of the DRC Government in the spirit of good neighborliness between the two sister States.

He reiterated Uganda's commitment as the chair of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to the process of finding a durable solution to the conflict in Eastern DRC, in line with the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region.

The M23 movement rebelled after the government failed to comply with a peace agreement signed in March 2009.

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