Parliament has Tuesday ordered the Prime Minister also Leader of Government Business, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to furnish the House with a statement on the impasse between Uganda and Rwanda which has since caused closure of Katuna border and a paralysis in movement of cargo.
The demand by legislators followed a matter of National Importance raised by Kampala Central Member of Parliament (MP), Mohamed Nsereko who noted that he has since been approached by about 100 traders from Kampala who are stranded on the various border points of Uganda and Rwanda.
Nsereko said that ever since Rwanda blocked the borders, over 170 loaded trucks are stuck on a stretch of about 3 kilometers which has caused significant loss of about Shs 30m for both countries.
“This has cost us revenue and has since broken up families and we have heard that the Rwanda’s Foreign Minister clearly issued a travel ban of Rwandans to Uganda including students and traders,” Nsereko said.
Nsereko added that, “As we speak today, there are no more Rwandan flights flying into Uganda. We can’t keep in the dark as MPs pretending that everything is in order when our neighbors are building sanctions in form of travel bans labeling Uganda unsafe with claims that there are illegal arrests which affects our trade with partners.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga noted that despite the Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda promising to handle the matter last week, there has been nothing tangibly done to resolve the impasse.
“Throughout the weekend, we have seen a lack of handling, the blockages continue and it has now gone to the human beings, we should know what is happening,” Kadaga asked.
In response, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali noted that government is not blind to what is happening at the border points, promising that the House will be informed at an appropriate time.
“What happened at the border is not a secret and for us in government, we can not say we don’t know what is happening at the border. But we also want to inform the country and Parliament to stay calm,” Gen Moses Ali noted.
He added, “This House will be informed at the appropriate time when government is ready”.
This prompted the National Female Youth MP, Anna Adeke Ebajju to put the Prime Minister to order noting that the gesture by government symbolizes taking Parliament for granted since this is not the first time the matter is coming up on the floor of the House.
“On 18th September 2018, I raised this same issue and brought up names of Rwandans who had been arrested as well as concerns of our diplomatic relationship with Rwanda in line with the East African solidarity,” Adeke said.
“This is a cat and mouse game between us and government, we need to speak candidly and be very firm, we need to know what is our stand with Rwanda and the way forward and we should have a timeline on which such information will be brought to us,” Adeke demanded.
Similarly, Kadaga asked that the issue about Uganda-Rwanda deteriorating relations be taken seriously.
“I want government to take this issue serious because Ugandans want to know whether they are free to travel or carry their goods to Rwanda.”
However Gen. Ali insisted that government is preparing to brief the House and shall only do so when it is ready.
This prompted the Speaker to rule on the matter ordering the Prime Minister to furnish the House with the necessary statement on Thursday.
“I know you are getting ready but we want you to be ready soon, you should be ready on Thursday this week, there is uncertainty and we want to give comfort to Ugandans,” Kadaga said.