The 14 cyclists on the expedition of the East African Community region have continued their excursion to Uganda after being flagged off from Rwanda yesterday.
The group that arrived in Kigali on Thursday from Bujumbura, began the trip named, “Tour d’EAC” in Kampala on August 1, as they set out on a two-month cycling journey of the EAC countries with a mission to sensitize ordinary East Africans about the importance of the regional integration.
Speaking to the media at the Ministry of EAC in Kimihurura, Kigali, where the cyclists were flagged off, John Balongo, the expedition overseer said, they are grateful for the generosity received when they arrived in Rwanda on Thursday night.
“On Day 1 we peddled 90km from Kampala to Jinja, then to Busia before crossing to Kenya. We continued to Arusha on Day 6 before setting off for Burundi covering a total distance of 3,000km. We are happy to be in Rwanda and we are grateful for the hospitality and kindness we have received.”
Balongo explained that, along the way, they don’t sleep in hotels but community centers but, for the first time in Rwanda, they slept comfortably in a hotel.
The group, which embarked on this trip without sponsorship feels that, as people who cross borders looking for work in the region, the concept of EAC integration is not well-known by ordinary people and that is why they decided to create awareness using this initiative.
For almost every stop over that they have done either to fix their bikes or take a rest, the audacious cyclists find themselves surrounded by ordinary people.
So they use that chance to explain, walk around, talk to ordinary people, discover new things and socialize at the same time explaining the reason for riding across the EAC region.
In downtown Nyabugogo, the cyclists interacted with ordinary Rwandans, explaining to them the importance and benefits of EAC integration.
On behalf of the Government of Rwanda, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for East African Community Affairs, Innocent Safari, thanked the cyclists especially the single female rider, Maureen Kwagala.
“The EAC integration program is very clear, it is people-centered. The initiative shows that the EAC integration is a reality and hopefully other partner states will follow. Recently we had the EAC Military Games, the essence is to show that people are coming together,” he stated.
However; along their tour, the cyclists met some challenges including: theft of their two bicycles at Busia, Uganda -Kenya border.
Not riding to South Sudan
Given the ongoing instability in South Sudan, the team will not tour the newest nation but plans are underway in the future when tension breezes down.
Today, the cyclists will set off on another long journey from Kigali to Kampala, through Kabale, Mbarara, and Masaka in the Western Uganda before arriving at the South Sudanese Embassy in Kampala for the closing/awards ceremony that will be held on September 1.