Government charges high prices for crossing Rwanda-Uganda border

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Crossing the Rwanda-Uganda border is very expensive because it reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the border supervisors are charging high prices, including the COVID-19 PCR test.

After three years, the movement of crossing the border started again on Monday, March 7, and they took this decision after the Cabinet meeting decided to open all of Rwanda’s land borders. The Gatuna/Katuna border was sealed in 2019 amid a diplomatic standoff but reopened on January 31 for only trucks.

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As per the latest requirements, passengers who want to cross between the two countries need to pay Rwf30,000 ($29) 0r Ush100,000 ($28) on Rwanda or Uganda side, respectively, for a PCR Covid-19 test.

When added to travel costs, travellers claim that the cost is high, especially for families. Some have opted to postpone till the requirement is revised.

As per Mugenzi Aime, a nationalist of Rwanda who has been working as a Boda Boda rider in Uganda for the last five years, “I paid Ush60,000 ($17) to travel from Kampala to this border, and I am paying Ush12,000 ($3) from the border to Kigali, including the PCR Covid-19 test of Ush100,000 ($28). I did not think the cost to be this high. If I pay the same amount when I return to Kampala this weekend, it will be over Ush300,000 ($83) in total. It is a lot of money.”

The need to pay for the PCR COVID-19 test only applies to the border of Uganda-Rwanda. Those who are thinking to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania from Rwanda are only needed to show a laissez-passer or passport with a rapid Covid-19 test, which costs Rwf5,000 ($5).

The analysts said these harsh conditions at the Rwanda-Uganda border as slowly enforced to control the movement as the political standoff between the two countries had not been resolved.

According to Dr Eric Ndushabandi, a political science professor at the University of Rwanda, the movement at the Gatuna border has to be controlled, most probably for now, in a bid to avoid people pouring into a country that has a record of mistreating Rwandans. There is still doubt given the recent history between both countries. Rwanda still needs to cautionary confirm if it is safe to let free movement resume.”

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Ties with Uganda declined in 2017 when Rwanda blamed its neighbour for holding groups hostile to Kigali and torturing innocent Rwandans on its soil. Despite bilateral exchanges and efforts to normalise relations, some issues remain.

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