Kabale district authorities have banned the sale of beans in all sub-counties along the border to stop business between Ugandan and Rwandan traders to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
People living along the border have been smuggling produce especially beans and alcohol across the border. Even the closure of the border on the orders of Rwandan President, Paul Kagame in February 2019 didn’t eliminate the illicit trade.
The recent border closure by President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as a preventive measure against the spread of the Corona pandemic didn’t also affect trade between the local communities across the border.
To effectively implement the presidential directives to contain the spread of COVID-19, Kabale District Health and Security authorities resolved on Wednesday to suspend the sale and transportation of beans in all sub-counties along the border.
Darius Nandinda, the Kabale Resident District Commissioner (RDC) said that despite the nationwide lockdown, Rwandan nationals have been streaming into Maziba, Buhara, Butanda Sub counties as well as Katuna and Ryakarimira town councils to buy beans.
Nandinda says they resolved to cut off the business because Rwanda has a high number of COVID19 patients.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a thriving cross-border trade between ordinary Rwandans and Ugandans in the villages along the common border.
“Rwanda has more cases than Uganda, but the numbers of Rwandans crossing into Uganda [for trade] increased. We decided as the district security committee and the COVID-19 taskforce to suspend the trade so that we can manage the numbers of Rwandan nationals that cross into Uganda,” Nandinda said.
Lt. Col. Robert Nahamya, the Commandant of the 19th Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) Battalion in Kabale district, says that even when they deployed along the common border, Rwandan nationals continued crossing to buy beans as well as buy waragi.