18 February 2016

Rwanda: Business Community Lauds Resumption of 24-Hour Service At Rwanda-DRC Border

Members of the business community have welcomed reports that the Rwanda-DR Congo border of La Corniche, popularly known as Grande Barrierre, has resumed operating on 24-hour basis.

This follows the announcement by Julien Paluku, the governor of North Kivu province, who said that effective February 16 [yesterday], the border would be open all day round as directed by President Joseph Kabila.

Paluku said Congolese and Rwandans deserve to move freely across the borders especially after the hospitality received by Congolese citizens during the just concluded Orange African Nations Championship (CHAN) that was held in Rwanda.

"People should feel free to go to Rwanda and vice-versa and this demonstrates to the world that the people of the Great Lakes Region can come together for greater things," he said.

Different business operators, mainly in the transport sector, said this was good news because the closure of the border on the Congolese side during dusk was a major inconvenience.

"We have clients especially cross-border businessmen who have always failed to travel with us due to these restrictions of opening and closing the border at 6am and 6pm," said Valentin Mwumvaneza a manager of Virunga Express, which operates between Kigali and Goma.

He said with the latest development, they will consider increasing the number of times they commute across the border.

Speaking to The New Times, the head of communication at the Rwandan Directorate for Immigration and Emigration, Yves Butera said that if indeed the Congolese had opened their side of the border, this will be a good step towards easing the movement of the people of the two countries.

"On our side of the border, we have been operating 24 hours. So if they have indeed opened on their part, it is commendable and it has been our wish to ensure that people's movement is not constrained in any way," said Butera.

Goma-Rubavu border post first operated 24 hours in September 2009 but the Kinshasa government in October 2012 gave a directive for their side to open at 6am and close at 6pm.

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