A bilateral meeting between Rwanda and Tanzania agreed to resolve the issue of cross-border truck drivers as part of the move to contain the new coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Infrastructure said on Monday.
The two countries had failed to reach an agreement, threatening to disrupt cross border trade, especially between Rwanda and Tanzania despite more than 80 per cent of Rwanda's goods being imported through Dar es Salaam.
Tanzanian truck drivers and owners had contested health guidelines that the Government had put in place as part of the measures that were aimed at curbing COVID-19, particularly swapping of drivers at entry points.
The new guidelines signal a mutual understanding and willingness between two countries to address the spread of COVID-19 in the region and promote cross border trade.
The Government says that all incoming cargo destined for Rwanda shall be offloaded at designated areas at points of entry, namely Kiyanzi (Kirehe) and Kagitumba (Nyagatare], the same move that Rwanda had earlier proposed.
For cargo that cannot be offloaded at designated areas at the points of entry, trans-shipment service where containers are exchanged from one truck to another is recommended and availed.
For cargo that cannot be offloaded or transshipped, like petroleum products and perishable goods, trucks will be escorted to their destination at no cost. Drivers will be allowed to stop only at designated Testing stops for health breaks.
The government already established temporary customs clearing facilities at Rusumo in Kirehe district comprised of inland cargo depot from which goods can be offloaded and be cleared by the Rwanda Revenue Authority.
Truck operations will be allowed only between 6 AM and 6 PM local time.
"For this to be met, it is Imperative for the consignees to ensure that facilities for offloading are made available before the drivers' departure from the points of entry, in order to protect the drivers from COVID. 19 well as curtailing any possible spread to other people in the community due to overstaying," the statement reads in part.
In the event that offloading for the escorted trucks cannot be completed within the mandated above-mentioned operations time, the drivers shall be accommodated at designated accommodation facilities at an importer's cost.
The designated facilities will be guarded to protect the drivers and the community from the spread COVID-19.
Rwanda said it will continue to make available mandatory testing facilities for all transit truck drivers and those who will be escorted with fuel and perishable products destined for Rwanda
Transit cargo will be escorted upon entry up to the final crossing point.