RUSUMO - Six vehicles that entered Rwanda via the Rusumo border post destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo,and bearing ‘IT’ number plates were, this week, impounded by Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Police.
The authorities took the action after the owners substituted the vehicles with Democratic Republic of Congo number plates to evade taxes.
The vehicles that left the Rusumo border were seven but one overturned in Rwamagana while the sixth is still missing, RRA officials said.
“At the Rusumo border, the vehicles were declared to be in transit to DRC but since the documents are recorded digitally, we didn’t see their exit hence the suspicion,” said Zefanie Muhigi, the transit commissioner and head of customs operations at RRA.
Rwanda and DRC signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly fight cross-border smuggling as well as fraud.
“We were tipped off and we followed the vehicles from Rusumo to Gisenyi into one Chantal Nzita’s premises where they were inscribed with DRC number plates from where they would cross into Goma,” added Muhigi.
Over 90 percent of vehicles in Gisenyi town have Congolese number plates either owned by Congolese or Rwandans.
The Rwandan authorities have in the past tried to ban them but with limited success.
Tambue Kanku, head of Congolese customs in Northern Kivu province, thanked Rwandan authorities for foiling the smuggling plot.
“Rwandan authorities implemented the agreement between the two countries and we thank them. We should work harder to fight this vice because we lose a lot of revenue through smuggling,” said Tambue.
However, Nzita, in whose compound the vehicles were found with swapped plates denied knowledge of the whole exercise, insisting she had only one vehicle belonging to a friend that she had authorised to park in her compound.
“I don’t know how the five vehicles got in here. Maybe they connived with the security guard,” Nzita said.