MASINDI – President Museveni has said Rwanda’s closure of its borders with Uganda is a ‘hiccup’ that will not slow down regional trade.
The closure of the border points, which is now in the third month, came after Kigali accused Kampala of harassing their citizens and harboring rebels hostile to Rwanda. Kampala denies the allegations and accuses Kigali of creating a trade war.
Nevertheless, Mr Museveni says Rwanda can’t stop trade through border administration.
“Even if the border is closed, the trade will go on, only that it will be through smuggling. You can’t stop trade through border administration. People resort to smuggling. Others have resorted to export a lot of things to South Sudan, DR Congo, Kenya Tanzania, etc.,” he said.
He made the remarks on Wednesday while 17 high ranking military officials from 11 countries including USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Bolivia at Masindi State Lodge, Masindi. The team led by Rear Admiral Ross Albon from UK Royal College of Defence Studies has been in the country for a one-week study tour of Uganda about ‘Uganda’s Geo-Politics and Economic Development’.
The border closure has hit hard the transport business between the two countries, with bus companies and associated businesses left counting heavy losses. As the standoff continues, the number and frequency of bus travels have drastically dropped, with the number of travellers dwindling to an all-time low.
Kabale Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Darius Nandinda, recently said the blockade is a boomerang because Rwandan nationals enjoy freedoms in Uganda, including being employed without work permits. “Rwandans in Uganda are as free as Ugandans. Anybody claiming that Rwandans are harassed in Uganda is a liar,” he said, adding: “The Rwandans denying their nationals entry into Uganda is their right, though it is biting them hard.”