KAMPALA- Fifteen cyclists from four member states of the East African Community have been flagged off by the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC affairs, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja on Thursday, July 1, 2019 at the Independence monument in Kampala.
The cyclists from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania have started their 50-days tour around the five EAC countries including the four represented states and Rwanda to complete the list.
Dr. Kivejinja urged the cyclists to spread the message about integration wherever they go stating that the union has endless benefits to the member states which can only be archieved through venturing in it.
“I want to assure Ugandans that our commitment to EAC integration becomes stronger by the day. We shall therefore continue to support such endeavors because of the enormous achievements that we have realized in our 20-year integration journey,” said Kivejinja who was the guest speaker on the event.
The Minister mentioned to the press that the East African integration efforts have enabled the free movement of people, goods and services across borders of neighbouring countries which has facilitated trade and commerce with in the region.
“Our major border crossings are now open 24 hour a day.We have simplified requirements for cross border travel and you just need your National ID to travel to any of the partner states of the EAC either using an interstate pass or a temporary travel permit,” he assured.
However it has come to the notice of PML daily that not all EAC countries have let their borders lose for traders and visitors from member states without passports.
In an interview with PML Daily, Dr. Kivejinja however down played all the allegations that some countries in the region have tightened their borders making them hard to access.
The current rows between Rwanda and Uganda have been an impediment to smooth transportation of goods and people to and from the two states ever since Rwanda decided to close its border with Uganda accusing the neighbor of supporting rebels that are destabilising peace in their territory.
Leaving the bad blood between partner states aside, the East African Community has grappled with a couple of other challenges that are threatening the successful integration of the sub continent.
Speaking on a panel discussion about the EAC and Brexit at the Kampala Geopolitics conference in Kampala last year 2018, Associate Prof. Apuuli Kasaija a lecturer of political science at Makerere University highlighted bad governance and lack of a competent system as the major factors for the likely collapse of the region’s Integration.
According to John Balongo, the team leader and founder of the East African Bicycle Tour, the initiative intends to spread the message about integration to the people in the region.
“The purpose of this tour is to inform people about integration because some people don’t understand what the EAC is,” he said.