It seems the current standoff at the Ugandan border with Rwanda regarding customs is more than what authorities in Rwanda are claiming it is.
On Wednesday evening, several vehicles from Uganda were blocked by Rwandan authorities from crossing to the Rwanda over claims of construction works taking place at Katuna border.
In a communication to the Commissioner for Customs at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the Rwandan tax body (RRA) said with effect from Thursday, the trucks carrying heavy cargo will be diverted to Kagitumba and Mirama hills.
The Commissioner said the development is “in a bid to expedite the construction works currently taking place at Gatuna border posts that are aimed at extending smooth flow of goods and services at the border post.”
Now, government of Uganda through its Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, says Rwanda has not only blocked vehicles, but also prevented school children from crossing to Uganda for studies.
Speaking from the government media centre on Thursday, Opondo revealed that the stand off is not only at Katuna, but across all the Uganda – Rwanda border points.
“Let Ugandans know that there is a slight problem at all the three crossing border points between Rwanda and Uganda at Gatuna, Kyanika in Kisoro and Mirama hills in Ntungamo district,” Opondo said.
He said government of Uganda on Wednesday received information that Rwanda was not allowing crossings at Katuna because the road towards Kigali was under repair. He however, says that they were surprised to learn that by Thursday morning, even Rwandan students were not allowed to come to Uganda.
“Unfortunately, by this morning, they were not allowing even school children to cross from Rwanda to come for studies in Uganda,” he said.
A number of Rwandan children who live near the Rwandan border cross to Uganda in the morning for studies and return in the evening, but Opondo says, they were blocked on Thursday.
The government spokesperson says that throughout Thursday, only non citizens of Uganda and Rwanda were allowed to cross the border after being checked.
He says Kampala is yet to establish whether “there is another reason beyond the road construction work they have given”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kuteesa, has been in engagements and Uganda is hopeful that the matter will be resolved quickly, Opondo says.
While responding to the matter of national importance raised by Bufumbira South MP, Sam Bitangalo about the matter, Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda said “Kutesa was on top of the situation on be behalf of government of Uganda.”
“This matter is being handled by the government, we further regret the inconvenience that the ‘wanainchi’ [ordinary citizens] and the business people have suffered because of this temporary situation,” he added.