Rwanda, Tanzania in negotiations over cross-border cargo movement

Foreign Affairs Ministers of Rwanda and Tanzania will on Friday, May 15, hold. discussions on the way forward in regard to cross border movement of freight trucks.

The development was confirmed by foreign minister and Government Spokesperson Vincent Biruta in a news conference on Friday morning.

 

Currently, over 1000 trucks destined for Rwanda are stuck in the Tanzanian border town of Benako, after some Tanzanian truck drivers protested the requirements by Rwanda to adopt a relay system handing over their trucks to Rwandan drivers.

 

The system was adopted by the government as part of the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

 

Expected outcomes of the meeting include potential approaches to ensure continued movement of cargo between the two countries and at the same time ensuring it does not lead to increased spreading of COVID-19.

Rwanda uses the port of Dar es Salaam for much of her inbound and outbound cargo, through what is commonly known as the Central Corridor.

Biruta said that this is a second meeting between the two delegations to discuss this issue.

In the previous ministerial sessions, two key issues were not agreed upon; swapping drivers at Rusumo border and escorting trucks carrying perishable goods.

“We had a previous meeting where we were not able to conclude on two particular points. One was on swapping of drivers at Rusumo border and another was escorting trucks that carry perishable goods and fuel which cannot offload at Rusumo. We made proposals which will be discussed this afternoon. We believe that there will be a resolution,” he said.

He expressed strong optimism of an agreement noting that it is in the interest of both parties to have resumption of cargo movement.

Manasseh Nshuti the Minister in charge of East African Community (EAC) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that with Rwanda has been taking measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, it is important that transport of goods across the region does not pose vulnerability to undo gains made.

He also noted that the stalemate could affect trade and movement of goods hence the need to reach an agreement with Tanzania soon.

Asked whether Rwanda was concerned about Tanzania's handling of the pandemic, Biruta said Rwanda does not judge or hold an opinion over approaches that have been chosen by its neighbours.

The outcomes of the negotiations would not in any way see Rwanda lower its guard in curbing the pandemic, the minister said, noting that currently, a majority of the active cases are truck drivers.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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