By Andrew Irumba
Kabale: Traders operating at the Rwanda-Uganda Gatuna border point in Kabale district are crying foul after the Rwandan government closed the border again, two weeks after it was temporarily opened.
On June 10, 2019, Rwanda Revenue Authority(RRA) announced it was re-opening the border to help carry out trials for heavy trucks through the Gatuna for a period of two weeks ending June 22, 2019. This was meant to assess the newly installed equipment before the inception of works. The move was widely seen by the business community as the first step towards permanent re-opening of the border. But Rwandan security officials closed it at 1:00am on Sunday night and directed all heavy trucks to use Kagitumba-Mirama Hill border as it had been since February 2019. Currently Rwandan police officers are deployed at Gatuna border.
A security officer revealed on condition of anonymity that the border had been closed because of cracks that have developed on the verandah and behind the compound of Gatuna–One Stop Border post. He also said Rwanda temporarily opened the border to allow in four Heavy Duty Generators from Mombasa in Kenya destined for Kigali. According to a security source, two of the generators were delivered last week. He says the border was immediately closed after two remaining generators made it through the crossing point. However, Residents and truck drivers have condemned the re-closure, saying it is affecting their business. Fidelis Mayooli, a truck driver transporting second hand clothes from Mombasa to Kigali, said that he arrived at Katuna on Saturday morning ready to cross but was surprised when Rwandan security officers directed them to drive back to Mirama-Kagitumba border,saying Katuna-Gatuna border had been closed. There has been tension between Uganda and Rwanda since February 27, 2019. It started after Rwanda closed its borders to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs post at Gatuna border. Rwanda also accused Uganda of supporting dissidents who want to overthrow President Paul Kagame’s government, on top of illegally detaining several Rwandese without producing them in court. However, the Ugandan government vehemently refuted all the allegations.