Rwanda Hikes Levies on Imports from Uganda as Traders Decry Decay of Perishable Goods

Ugandan trucks stuck at the Uganda-Rwanda border of Kyanika. (Photo: Uganda Media Centre)

Ugandan cargo trucks have has since the 27th of February 2019 been denied entry to Rwanda at Katuna-Gatuna border post.

The Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) a day later, on 28th February 2019, notified Uganda’s tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA, in writing that construction works were ongoing on the Gatuna-Kigali highway and had diverted cargo trucks to the Mirama Hills-Kagitumba border post, nearly 114 kms away.

It was not clear why Rwanda decided to write to only Uganda as nationals of other countries also access Rwanda through Uganda shared borders with Rwanda.

It turned out, however, that Rwanda had closed all border points including Kagitumba and Cyanika, and only Ugandan cargo was banned.

Traders who spoke with SoftPower News wondered why Rwanda had let them pay taxes for goods just days before they blocked the trucks.

“I have perishables, fish and vegetables. All these are going to waste yet I have been blocked from moving to Rwanda after being paying taxes to Rwanda Revenue Authority,” one of the traders decried making losses.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Ofwono Opondo, the government Spokesperson said that Rwanda had blocked its nationals, even those who study in Uganda, from crossing over to Uganda.

“Some disturbing information is that Rwandans this morning (Thursday) resorted to panya-routes (shortcuts) to buy food from Uganda and there are reports that the foods were confiscated on arrival in their countryside,” Ofwono stated.

On Saturday, a team from Uganda Media Centre conducted a visit to the border point to assess the situation.

The team revealed that over 130 cargo trucks are still stuck at Katuna border point; despite 52 having their papers processed by URA Customs for entry to Rwanda.

Rwanda has also hiked border clearance charges by 100 per cent.

“To clear a truck, they have doubled the price from 200,000 Rwanda Francs to 400,000 Francs (approximately 1.6M). Maize –from Rwandan Francs 150,000 to Rwanda Francs 300,000”, the tweet from Uganda Media Centre read.

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