Usually, cargo trucks from Mombasa port pass through Uganda and Rwanda before reaching Burundi.
The government of Burundi has decided it will not allow any more cargo trucks from Rwanda to enter its territory. The decision received negative feedback from traders as it contradicts the East African Community (EAC) resolution to ease the movement of people and goods between member countries during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ministers of health and EAC coordinators agreed that member countries will be allowed free movement across borders after thorough coronavirus testing.
The Rwanda Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has written to Kenya and Uganda informing them that cargo trucks that were heading to Burundi were denied entrance.
The letter reads: "The government of Burundi has denied entrance of cargo trucks from Rwanda despite EAC measures to allow movement of goods during the pandemic."
"Following Burundi’s decision, with immediate effect, Rwanda will not be allowing cargo trucks carrying goods to Burundi to pass through its territory."
Since last week, cargo trucks that were carrying goods to Burundi have been stranded in the no man’s land between Rwanda and Burundi. The letter from the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation shows that 23 cargo trucks have been denied access to Burundi’s territory as of March 30th, 2020.
Truck drivers have tried negotiating with Burundian authorities but to no avail.
On March 28th, 2020, two trucks heading to Burundi via Nemba border in Bugesera, Rwanda were denied access to Burundi’s territory. They were discharged and goods were packed onto Burundian trucks. One other truck is still stuck at the border until today.
On March 27th, 2020, at Ruhwa border post, two other trucks were denied entrance. At Akanyaru border post, a few other cargo trucks were stuck and drivers were negotiating with Burundian authorities to be granted access.
On March 29th, 2020, 8 trucks that were carrying goods to Burundi were intercepted at Mirama Hills no man’s land between Rwanda and Uganda.
On Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, Rwanda granted refuge to 6 Burundian citizens who were denied entrance by their government. As announced by the directorate general of immigration and emigration, the 6 Burundians have been stranded at the border since March 27th, 2020.
The 6 Burundians include a family of 5 with one member who came to Rwanda for chemotherapy and another Burundian citizen who was traveling from Kenya to Burundi via Rwanda.
Tharcienne Hashazinka had been staying in Rwanda for months while his son was being treated for cancer at Butaro Hospital. The family of 5 tried all they could to cross over to Burundi but were denied entrance.
An official at the directorate general of immigration and emigration stated that the 6 Burundian citizens were granted refuge at a hostel in Huye district and are under a 14-day mandatory quarantine as a preventive procedure against coronavirus.
Burundi’s decision to impose a total blockade is against EAC’s recent resolutions to allow movement of goods between member countries. Citizens who were stranded in foreign countries before the lockdown were allowed to liaise with the embassy of Burundi to be granted entrance but the government of Burundi failed to respect the agreement.