The Uganda-Rwanda border at Katuna has been opened to allow movement of heavy trucks, in what Rwanda says will be to try its one-stop-border infrastructure.
In a statement dated June 7, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) said the area will only be open from June 10, 2019, to June 22, 2019.
“Reference is made to Rwanda Transport Development Agency letter dated June 7, 2019, which expresses the need to carry out trials for heavy trucks movement on Gatuna [Katuna] OSBP for a period of two weeks from 10th to 22nd June 2019 and assess the operationalization of the constructed works and equipment before the reception of works,” the letter read in part.
Reliable sources, however, indicate that the pressure from Rwandan citizens who have found it difficult to access basic user commodities after the February closure has prompted the opening. Prices of items such as soap and sugar had more than doubled in the wake of the unilateral border closure by Rwanda.
The Katuna border was closed in February 2019 in what was interpreted as a result of the row between Uganda and Rwanda. During that time, Ugandan traders were advised to use the Kyanika and Kagitumba border posts to enter Rwanda despite some restrictions too.
Attempts by the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to explain that the closure was due to the construction works ongoing were quickly thwarted by tweets and open disdain from top Rwandan officials, including the Foreign Affairs Minister who indicated the closure was due to a row with Uganda.
Rwandan officials accused Uganda of supporting rebels trying to overthrow the Kigali regime, an accusation Kampala has consistently denies. Kigali also issued a travel advisory to its citizens not to go to Uganda.
Addressing diplomats in Kampala on the Rwanda-Uganda row, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said the February closure of the border had taken Uganda by surprise. He also said Rwandan security operatives were entering Uganda illegally.