It’s a sigh of relief for cross-border traders, especially importers, after Rwanda and Tanzania finally agreed on a solution for cross-border movement of freight trucks.
The stalemate had affected the flow of goods into the country as trucks destined for Rwanda had been stuck in the Tanzanian border-town of Benako for days after some Tanzanian truck drivers protested the requirements by Rwanda to adopt a relay system handing over their trucks to Rwandan drivers.
Following talks on Friday, May 15, the two countries agreed not to implement the previously proposed swapping of drivers with immediate effect allowing resumption of movement of goods over the weekend, according to a statement from the government.
In place of the previously proposed swapping of drivers, goods destined for Rwanda will be offloaded at border points with the exception of perishable goods and petroleum products which will be escorted at no cost to their final destinations.
The drivers entering the country to deliver petroleum and perishable goods will undergo mandatory testing facilitated by the Rwandan government.
They will however be only allowed to operate between the hours of 6am to 6pm. The meeting resolved that drivers can spend the night at designated accommodation facilities at the importers cost.
Truck drivers will be tested for COVID19 facilitated by the Tanzanian government while leaving their respective starting points and at every overnight regional designated stopping centre.
Rwanda uses the port of Dar es Salaam for much of its inbound and outbound cargo through what is commonly known as the Central Corridor.
This has led to the emergence of concerns such as the fate of freight movement across the bloc.
With a majority of current patients at treatment centres being truck drivers or their assistants, ensuring free movement of goods without further vulnerability has been a tight balance.
Importers who spoke to The New Times expressed relief with the resumption of movement of goods saying that they were concerned about the fate of their stocks.
John Magirane, an importer and wholesaler of household products, told this paper that like many other traders, their goods had been caught up in the stalemate leaving them uncertain of their business continuity.
Some local bankers said that they were also concerned about the fate of their clients especially after the slowdown of trade in recent weeks due to the lockdown noting that resumption of freight trucks would facilitate recovery of trade.