Bukoba — AT last over 350 trucks which were stranded at Rusumo on Tanzania- Rwanda border, have been allowed to proceed to Kigali, following a compromise reached between the two countries.
Ngara District Commissioner (DC), Mr Costantine Kanyasu, told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview that a convoy of over 350 trucks on Thursday morning started heading for Kigali.
"Tanzania and Rwanda have agreed on a harmonised user transit charge (road toll) of 152 USD per trucks plying between the two countries down from 500 USD. "The trucks got stranded between Benaco and Rusumo post from September 9, this year, after the Kigali government raised the road toll from 152 US dollars to 500 US dollars," he said.
Mr Kanyasu, however, expressed concern that the local truck operators caused a big environmental destruction by recklessly cutting trees for preparation of food. The spokesperson for Tanzania Transporters Association (TATOA), Mr Elias Lukumay, appealed to the government to find a lasting solution to normalise trade relations between the two neighbouring countries.
The Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Dr William Mgimwa, was quoted saying that Tanzania had agreed to the new rates to save the country from losses it was to incur from the lucrative transit trade.
"Between 200 and 300 trucks cross to Rwanda while just 20 to 30 trucks enter Tanzania from Rwanda. Our traders were set to suffer most," he said. Dr Mgimwa and Rwandan Minister for Finance and Planning, Ambassador Claver Gatete met in Kampala on Wednesday and reached the agreement.
Rwanda has been complaining on what it described as higher charges by Tanzanian authorities. At first, Rwanda used to charge 16 USD per 100km in reciprocal with Tanzania, before it introduced a flat rate of 152 USD and eventually the new rate of 500 USD.
Tanzania is the shortest and affordable transport corridor for Kigali at a distance of just 1,350km compared to over 2,700km when goods are transported through Mombasa.
The corridor carries transit consignments destined for Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and parts of north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), such as Bukavu, Kivu and Goma through Rwanda.