Traders and cargo transporters have been forced off the Kigali-Katuna highway, a major trade route connecting Uganda and Rwanda, after a landslide damaged part of the road on May 14.
Following the heavy rains, part of the Gatuna road in Rwanda, about 4km from the Ugandan side of Katuna border, trucks have now been diverted to the Mirama Hills One-Stop Border Post (OSBP).
Although the trade and cargo movement through the Mirama OSPB is booming, traders at Katuna want the government of Rwanda to quickly repair the damaged road.
Officials at Mirama say they have realised a clearance turnover of 200 per cent. Before the rains washed away Gatuna road, this OSBP had much less traffic.
Ronald Kweezi, the Uganda Revenue Authority in–charge at Mirama, said apart from the additional kilometres one has to travel now, the business between Uganda and Rwanda has not been greatly affected.
‘We are lucky that this occurred since now we have got an occasion to prove that we are competent and have a more preferable route to use. Business between the two countries doesn’t need to stop,” Kweezi said.
This OSBP is one of several built using funding from the UK’s Department for International Development through TradeMark East Africa at a tune of the $13 million.
Until now, Mirama Hills OSBP had been underutilised even though it can take more trucks and passengers.
URA Mirama Hills customs office figures showed that in a typical day, roughly 18 incoming trucks and nine outgoing trucks are cleared. But on May 15, after that incident, 77 trucks and 131 trucks respectively were cleared on May 16.
On the other hand, Simon Esunget, URA’s in-charge at Katuna border, said there has been an increase in clearing agents and their trucks.
Uganda exports to Rwanda
According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Uganda exports to Rwanda were worth $193.26 million during 2016.
They included salt, sulpur, lime and cement, animal and vegetable fats and oils; iron and steel, vehicles, and electricals among others.