KIREHE – Over 20 UN truck drivers heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from Tanzania are protesting against delays in clearing their vehicles at the Tanzania-Rwanda common border.
Consequently, the drivers who have parked in Nyakarambi town Kirehe District, for days are demanding that the UN increases their travel allowances due to delays they have encountered .
The trucks are carrying different goods and merchandise meant for UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) personnel.
Upon being contacted for a comment, the District Mayor, Protais Murayira said a reaction to the issue could only be sought from either the UN or the Tanzanian company that has been hired to transport the goods.
“Truck drivers are on strike but it isn’t really our concern. Our obligation is clearly stated by the international conventions. Fortunately, a UN officer from DRC was here to sort it out, and hopefully this officer will get to the bottom of the matter,” the Mayor said.
The security officials in Kirehe say the trucks have not been allowed to proceed because they came in small numbers, yet there are a minimum number of vehicles required before being escorted by security organs.
“These drivers are carrying fragile and or what is considered as security merchandise necessitating a need for a security escort .
Logistically it makes sense for us to accord this escort to a fairly large number of trucks at ago. So the problem is logistical weakness from the contracted companies,” said a Rwandan security official who did not wish to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the press.
However, the delay has not passed without incident. The Nyakarambi Sector Executive Secretary, Apollinairie Nsengiyunva, says the presence of many vehicles and drivers in the small town has caused some level of insecurity in this area.
“This is a small town; the presence of these reckless drivers has not gone down well with us as local authorities. They engage themselves in nasty things like prostitution, and heavy drinking. In fact the police swoop few weeks ago showed that commercial workers from elsewhere had infiltrated this region,” he said.
According to district officials, the vehicles were parked at Nyakarambi town to avoid congestion at Rusumo border post.
This is the second such protest within a period of one month. Over 150 truck drivers had protested a couple of weeks ago in the same town over delays they encountered which prompted a senior UN officer from the DRC to intervene to calm them.