Rwanda: Why Ugandan Cement Imports Were Sent Back

A worker arranges cement bags inside one of Hima Cement stores (file photo).

Cement imports to Rwanda by Uganda's Hima Cement Limited were last month sent back after failing to meet quality standards for imports entering the local market, Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) has said.

The clarification follows a story by Uganda government owned newspaper, New Vision, that the cement imports in three trucks - each loaded with 30 tonnes - had been sent back for unspecified reasons.

However, it has emerged that the imports failed to meet minimum quality requirements.

In an interview with The New Times, RBS Director General Raymond Murenzi clarified that the goods were subjected to routine standards tests which they failed to meet.

Among the standards, the cement imports were found to have breached was packaging control as each unit weighed below 50kg it was meant to be.

The cement packages were found to weigh between 47 and 48 kilogrammes despite being labeled to weigh 50 kilogrammes, prompting the standards body to turn the cargo back to its country of origin.

Murenzi said that this is not the first of such occurrences with the weight issue dating as far back as 2015 and the company was notified on each occasion.

"The products were tested and failed to meet some quality requirements of cement imports. We have since communicated to the firm," he said.

He added that they had regularly reached out to the firm to explain the requirements for imports in the past on noticing the anomaly in previous instances.

"We monitor import qualities coming into the country, which are considered paramount and had noted the issue of Hima imports and communicated to the firm. They have not yet complied with the requirement," he said.

Following the test, the firm was given a 14-day re-export window which required them to return the products to the point of origin.

He, however, explained that if the products of the same producer meet the standard requirements, they would be allowed into the Rwandan market.

RBS further clarified that the tests are for all cement products in the market, both locally produced as well as imports, and are not discriminatory in any way.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe, said that Rwanda's borders remain open for trade and imports but noted that products entering the market are subjected to quality checks.

"All products entering the country wherever they come from must comply with the required standards," he told The New Times.

The Government has severally stated that Rwanda remains ready to trade with Ugandan traders despite the impasse with the Ugandan government which has been accused to supporting enemies of Rwanda, jailing, torturing and deporting Rwandans illegally.

Over the last two years, about 1000 Rwandans have been irregularly deported from Uganda while a total of 190 have been arrested and tortured.

Individual and organisations seeking to destabilise Rwanda have also revealed that they are often supported by elements in Uganda who hold senior government positions.

Rwanda has also accused Uganda of trade sabotage whereby access to the port of Mombasa in Kenya through Uganda has on so many occasions been hindered as several trucks headed to or out of Rwanda have been seized by Ugandan authorities, sometimes for weeks, before being released without any explanation.

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