The animosity between Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, that led to the closure of the Rwanda Uganda border is totally paralysing most cross-border movements between the two countries, a situation that has taken a toll on the economy of the two nations.
The Ugandan-Rwandan border at Katuna became the death of most thriving businesses in the region when Rwanda suddenly closed it up on February with queues of cargo trucks and thronging merchants turned back as soldiers from both armies rounded up along the border.
Ugandan troops are manning Katuna, the border town, where earth-movers can be seen clearing a road to a hilltop military base while the Rwandan forces are patrolling their side. Children cannot cross for school, workers cannot move freely as the blockage is taking a toll on traders.
Rwanda, which relies heavily on imports from its larger northern neighbour, is experiencing an increase in food prices. Access to the export market in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi by Ugandan traders has been crippled. The busy streets that are always flocked twenty-four hours with buyers and sellers are now deserted.
“I have lived and worked here most of my life, business has never been this bad,” said Philemon Mugasha, a Ugandan clearing agent at Katuna.
Risking crossing the border at night could cost one their life. In May, a bean trader was shot in the arm by Rwandan troops as he attempted to enter Uganda.
“If they see us, they will arrest us and beat us for defying their order. It is dangerous,” said one Rwandan worker who crossed illegally at Katuna to find work, and could not return.
Looks like its gonna be a long while before it gets any better as Rwanda is determined to fight back it alleged enemies, a decision that is inflicting casualties each day it drags on.
“Those who think we have not seen enough of a mess, and want to mess with us, whether from here or from outside, I want to say: We will mess up with them big time,” Kagame threatened his perceived enemies during a speech marking the 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide.