President Paul Kagame has spoken out on trade and cross border cargo movement that Rwanda is currently experiencing noting Rwanda’s readiness to engage neighbours in search of a solution.
The President was speaking Friday July 10 during a broadcasted live Instagram session with social media influencers and a section of local media which focused on Rwanda’s 26-year journey after liberation.
Commenting on the status of regional trade and cross border movement of goods, the Head of State said that there were challenges in movement of goods into and out of the country occasioned by challenges of cooperation by regional countries.
He said that in recent weeks, there were false reports in a section of media outlets alluding that cross border truck drivers entering the country were being harassed and mistreated.
Noting that the statements were not true, Kagame said that Rwanda was keen on conducting tests for truck drivers as had been previously agreed by the East African Community.
“I have seen in the media false reports that truck drivers entering Rwanda have been harassed and mistreated. That isn't true. What we do is test truck drivers entering for Covid-19 and that's what we agreed in the EAC,” he said.
In May, four East AfricanCommunity (EAC) leaders convened a virtual summit whereby the resolutions included testing of truck drivers entering countries to reduce vulnerability to the pandemic.
Testing, tracing and isolation of infected personnel was agreed upon as a key way to ensure that supply chains and movement of goods is maintained amidst the pandemic to allow for productivity of economies.
However, it emerges that there have been challenges in honouring the spirit of the agreement which has created challenges for Rwanda as a landlocked country depending on the Northern (via Uganda and Kenya) and Central (via Tanzania) Corridors.
In attempting to comply with the prior agreement on testing, the President said that Rwanda has been facing difficulties despite attempts to seek ways to work together with other countries often being put in scenarios that could raise the country’s vulnerability to the pandemic.
“We have tried to incentivise or sweeten ways to work together with neighbours to ease movement of goods and trucks. But we are still finding difficulty,” he said.
The President said that cooperation is the only sure way to ensure that trade and movement of goods can continue at the same time managing the pandemic.
“My problem is not who has more cases than the other, our problem is that we should work together to manage it, to control it, there are ways known to do that and through cooperation we can have a very good understanding… There is one way of doing it for everyone, it is cooperation, feeling for one another. And knowing that if we don’t some will suffer more than others,” he said.
He however noted that Rwanda will continue to engage neighbouring countries with an awareness that post-Covid-19, there will be multiple areas of continued cooperation.
Kagame also commented on the possibility of improved ties between Rwanda and Burundi, saying the government was ready to work with the new leadership in Burundi led by President Évariste Ndayishimiye.
“There is history that led to the bad relations between our two sister countries but we are ready to work with President Ndayishimiye of Burundi to address those issues,” he noted.
The engagement also featured Kagame’s recent calls for improved accountability which he termed as a principle of good governance noting that leaders should also be held accountable.
“Throughout the Liberation Struggle, we have always associated with good governance. Accountability is an RPF belief. We have a responsibility to make sure that our leaders hold principles of accountability seriously,” he said.
With a majority of Instagram users being the youth, several questions were raised on his advice to the young people to build on 26 years of liberation.
On this, Kagame advised the young people to always brace themselves for difficult scenarios ahead even when things seem easy. This he said would allow them to be better prepared for challenges that might emerge.
There were light moments in the engagement which saw Kagame share his daily routine -which he admitted is often irregular- as well as encouraging children on milk consumption.