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Minister Gatabazi sheds light on reasons for reopening of land borders

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The reopening of land borders is part of resolutions of the cabinet meeting held on Friday 4th March 2022. They had been closed for more than two years due to COVID-19.

The decision takes effect from Monday 7th March 2022. The resolution to reopen borders also reads that incoming passengers might be tested for COVID-19, if need be, before crossing to Rwanda.

Except the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), other land borders between Rwanda and Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda have been under closure for quite some time.

For instance, the border with Burundi was under closure for seven years since the onset of spoilt relations between both countries while borders with Uganda were closed in 2019.

The Minister of Local Government, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi has told the Voice of America that air borders had been opened before.

“Citizens were only allowed to cross the border on DRC side. The reopening concerns free movement between Rwanda and Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Congo. All regulated borders are open for outgoing and incoming passengers,” he said.

Gatabazi has however advised citizens against crossing through illegal entries noting that whoever caught doing so will face the law.

He explained that the borders are open for people and goods.

Even though the borders have been reopened, there is need for collaboration between the neighboring countries to ease free movement.

For instance, Gatuna border was opened towards the end of January 2022 but did not ease free movement immediately due to discussions that had to be held between both countries regarding measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“When we open borders, it should also be noted that other countries have collaboration with emigration and immigration officials as well as services offered through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The decision to reopen borders is a positive development but there will also be several considerations between concerned ministries of foreign affairs and ministries of health,” he said.

As Minister Gatabazi revealed, these considerations include unique governance system and processes to receive passengers.

The recent cabinet meeting also resolved that businesses will operate 24 hours per day instead of the previous curfew set at 12:00 midnight.

However, concerts, night clubs, bars, gaming activities and other reception venues shall close at 2:00 a.m.

Speaking to RBA, Minister Gatabazi has urged citizens to continue adhering to instituted COVID-19 preventive measures and make sure they are full vaccinated.

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