After the established one-stop-border-post was operationalized, travelers passing through the Gatuna and Katuna border posts in Rwanda and Uganda, respectively, are ecstatic because the issues with long lines and the hassles of having to clear twice have been resolved.
Mr. Jean Bosco Nfitemu and Ms. Umutoni Mahoro, two frequent travelers from Rwanda, claimed yesterday that thanks to the one-stop-border-post system, they can enter Uganda directly from Rwanda at Katuna and get their immigration clearance from immigration officers from both countries working together in the same building. The one-stop border post was built at the Katuna border post in the Kabale District and finished in October of last year.
Gatuna on the Rwandan side of the border saw a stop to cross-border trade and travel after the Kigali administration closed the border for three years while claiming to be building the one-stop-border-post. The traders at the Katuna Border Post on the Ugandan side came to life when it was reopened in March of last year.
In the East African Community, the idea of a single-stop border station is used to administer borders and manage immigration. Enhancing trade, increasing efficient mobility of people and commodities, lowering business costs in the area, and facilitating the movement of people and services within the community are some of its key goals.
“I am personally grateful for this operationalisation of the one-stop-border-post arrangement because it is quick and convenient. Travellers clear once, unlike in the past where we had to jump out of the vehicles to clear on the Rwandan side, then walk to clear on the Ugandan side before boarding our vehicles again. It was time consuming and exhausting,” Mr Nfitemu said.
According to Mr. Soter Kabyogamu, the senior immigration officer at Katuna Border Post, since the one-stop-border-post arrangement went into effect, there are now roughly 1,500 travelers from each country passing through each day, up from the previous 1,000.
“The increase of the number of travellers is partially attributed to the operationalisation of the one-stop-border-post in either countries. The flow of travellers is smooth and time-saving, unlike in the past where travellers had to go through clearance processes on either side of the country,” Mr Kabyogamu said.
Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita Gowa, the director of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Citizenship and Immigration Directorate, revealed yesterday during routine inspection at the Katuna Border Post that the government intends to elevate several permeable border entry points to official immigration offices to legalize cross-border travel and trade in an effort to address instances of illegal entries and the resulting consequences.
The 11th session of the joint permanent commission and business forum between Rwanda and Uganda was held in the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda early this year, he continued, and this topic was covered there. They wish to address the difficulties associated with trade and cross-border travel between the two nations.
“Today, I am with a team of technocrats who include the Commissioner, Immigration Control, Col Geoffrey Kambere, and other engineers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. We are assessing the porous border points that we may begin with,” Maj Gen Gowa said, adding: “We have visited Omurubumba porous border post in Kabale District. We shall head to Kisoro District to assess others. This exercise shall be conducted countrywide to facilitate the free movement of people and their goods crossing to the East African Community countries.”
Although they will probably have financial difficulties as they hire staff and build the infrastructure needed to open new immigration offices, he continued, their goal is to develop centers for the appropriate responsibility of the persons who cross from either country.