Uganda: Business Still Paralysed At Uganda-Rwanda Border Towns

Border check. A Rwandan security officer inspects a vehicle from the Ugandan side at Cyanika border post.

Business at Katuna and Chanika towns at the Uganda-Rwanda is still paralysed after the Rwanda customs officials allegedly failed to clear cargo trucks.

About 17 cargo trucks are parked at Chanika on Ugandan side and at least 100 parked both on the no man's land and Katuna town on the Ugandan side.

Uganda government spokesperson Mr Ofwono Opondo said Friday that all vehicles from Rwanda enter well into Uganda but it's the opposite on the Rwandan side.

"Rwandese aren't being allowed to travel and enter Uganda but Ugandan nationals are. What is being stopped are only vehicles because of the blockage," Mr Opondo told journalists in Kampala before advising motorists to use Ntugamo-Mirama Hills.

"The construction at the Gatuna border (Rwanda) with Uganda is making movement difficult. However, we've not received any information about why Rwandese and trucks aren't entering Uganda. There's no witch hunt for Rwandese in Uganda. There's also nobody from Rwanda being held by the Ugandan authorities for any reason. We would like to send a clear message to Rwanda that there's no one Uganda is harassing from Rwanda or has in custody," Mr Opondo said.

However, Mr Opondo noted that the standoff does not affect air transport.

"Flights have been going on smoothly at Entebbe Airport whether for Fly Rwand Air or any other airline. No Rwandans or Ugandans have been affected by this.

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The chairman of the clearing agents at Katuna border town, Mr Sam Sserwanga on Thursday said tension started on Wednesday at around 4.30pm when all the cargo vehicles from Uganda were denied entry into Rwanda because the Rwandan customs officials declined to clear them.

"The situation is tense because all the Rwandan registered vehicles have not entered Uganda since morning and I am told that people with Rwanda travel documents were on Thursday morning denied entry into Uganda by the Rwanda immigration officials who declined to clear them. Whereas business is normal on the Ugandan side, business is completely paralysed on the Rwanda side with up to hundreds of cargo trucks parked,"Mr Sam Sserwanga said.

The Rwandan ambassador to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambagye on Thursday told this journalist that he was not aware of the border situation and promised to find out the cause of the paralysis.

" I have no idea. Let me find out then we shall see," Maj Gen Mugambagye said in a telephone interview.

However, in a statement on Wednesday, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) said cargo trucks from Uganda had been blocked at Katuna, also known as Gatuna, to pave way for the upgrade of the one-stop border post.

RRA in a letter addressed to the Commissioner for Customs at Uganda Revenue Authority said heavy trucks would be diverted to other border crossings.

"We are considering reducing the traffic of heavy trucks to allow completion of the OSBP infrastructure," read the letter signed by Ms Rosine Uwamariya, the Commissioner for Customs at RRA.

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