The government of Rwanda has once again closed its border with Uganda, just two weeks after reopening it.
Earlier this month, the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) Commissioner General Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali informed the public that heavy trucks were provisionally allowed to cross the border in order to facilitate the trial activities as requested by Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA).
“Reference is made to Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) letter dated June 7, 2019 which expresses the need to carry out trials for the heavy trucks movement at Gatuna OSBP for a period of two weeks from 10th up to 22nd and assess the operationalization of the constructed works and equipment before the reception of works,” said Bizimana in a letter dated June 7, 2019.
However, in a June 10, 2019 brief to the Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Richard Sezibera explained that as government, they had not changed their minds regarding the travel advisory against Uganda, according to local news outlet KTPress.
He also disclosed that the Gatuna border was never closed for business but for construction reasons which include completion of One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) on each side of Rwanda and Uganda.
“Once the road is tested and seen as fit, it will resume normally, but we don’t know when the Ugandan side will complete construction of the post, for all of us to work effectively.”
“The travel advisory has not changed. It remains as before,” he said.
HIV patients affected by new border closure;
According to local online news website Uganda Radio Network (URN), before the border closure, Rwandan nationals often crossed to Uganda to seek treatment from the border districts of Isingiro, Ntungamo, Rukiga, Rubanda, Kabale and Kisoro. Some of the Rwandans were receiving treatment in Ugandan facilities which include Kamuganguzi, Maziba and Rubaare health center IVs.
At Rubaare health centre IV, some 1,710 patients were receiving Anti-retroviral treatment (ART) care at the beginning of the year. However, 62 have since missed treatment. Efforts to follow them indicate that they are Rwandan nationals who are currently unable to cross into Uganda for treatment.
Dr Ambrose Okello, the in-charge of Rubaare health centre says that other 10 patients have been on and off treatment. Dr Okello explains that missing out on treatment for HIV positive patients is dangerous since it leads to the deterioration of their health.
Beatrice Chemisto the deputy district health officer for Ntungamo calls on those who could be having relatives who have missed treatment to devise means of helping them resume treatment.
Sonia Mwiza, whose relatives have been affected, says that her sister who used to receive drugs from Rubaare health centre IV had gone home at the time when the border was closed.
“We who are HIV positive, we are now finding it hard, some of us used to get drugs from Kabale hospital and Rubaare health centre. Now it is challenging because the border is closed, were request that the border be opened so that we can continue accessing the drugs.” she said.
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