The government of Burundi has reopened its borders for goods transiting from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, after two weeks of blockage on the country’s northern and western borders.
Burundi had, by March 30, officially blocked all cargo trucks from the East African Community transiting through Rwanda while, since a week earlier, Burundian immigration had been denying entry to different freights.
Tanzanian border had remained open.
Following the freights embargo, Rwanda informed Kenya and Uganda that it would not let in Burundi-bound cargo trucks from the two East African countries since it was left no choice.
Rwanda made that decision after dozens of trucks ended up being stranded on the Rwandan side and others on the no-man’s land at the different border entry points between both countries, with their merchandise.
Mostly, the goods that transit through Rwanda destined to Burundi come from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
Until yesterday, all borders with Rwanda and DRC remained closed to other traffic except for the cargo.
Last night, the Burundian government said “that despite the closure of the north and west borders with Rwanda and DRC, the free movement of goods remains assured. Truck drivers are called upon to respect the measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Resuming cargo movement has also been confirmed by the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations.
“All borders are now open,” reads a statement released Monday morning. “Trucks on transit that are carrying goods will continue moving as per EAC guidelines.”
For a fortnight, the blockade was in violation of the recent resolutions by EAC ministers in charge of health and EAC affairs, which among other things, resolved to facilitate continuity of business in the region amidst the coronavirus crisis.
They also directed all partner states to ensure that trucks and vehicles carrying goods have a maximum of three crew members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing in the region.
The blockade hurt many business owners who are already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides blocking trucks, Burundi has also been accused by its nationals of denying them their right to return to their country.
A recent incident saw a Burundian family of five people being denied entry after they left Rwanda where they had escorted a family member who was undergoing cancer treatment at Butaro Cancer Centre.
The guidelines by the EAC ministers had encouraged countries to allow repatriating citizens but recommended that they should first undergo an institutional quarantine before being left to join their respective communities.