Women traders decry harassment

Women involved in cross border trade between Rubavu and Goma towns have pointed out what they term  as  “mistreatment” by law enforcement officers, on one side of the border and high taxation on the other.Over 85 percent of women in Rubavu district trade in small businesses to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) while Congolese do the same in Gisenyi town.

Women involved in cross border trade between Rubavu and Goma towns have pointed out what they term  as  “mistreatment” by law enforcement officers, on one side of the border and high taxation on the other.

Over 85 percent of women in Rubavu district trade in small businesses to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) while Congolese do the same in Gisenyi town.

Diane Umuhoza, a Rwandan who conducts her trade in DRC said while in Congo there is a security challenge for both their business and lives since in most cases their goods are confiscated and they are harrased.

She made the remarks at a meeting organised by the Economic Community for the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL), together with the United Nations, Wednesday.

The meeting was convened to plan on how to improve the women’s cross border trade.

Umuhoza said: “We hope the meeting will look into challenges we face in DRC such as multiple harrassment but what   appears to be unlawful extortion by unauthorized people in Congo most of them being thieves.”

Joseph Lititiyo Afata, officer  in charge of investment in DRC confirmed that they had received reports of harassment of women traders in the two towns, especially last year.

 He, however, was quick to state that the sensitization campaign in both countries has helped improve the situation.

“Women in this trade complain about high taxes and they lack enough financial support so we want to see how their business can be facilitated ,”said Afata.

It has been noted that some of the problems faced by traders are due to lack of an structured market for their merchandise.

 In a bid to improve this situation, the meeting participants suggested that efforts be put to establish a market in a no man’s land where traders can sell their produce.

The business women also complained about high taxes charged by Rwanda

Revenue Authority yet their businesses are small to generate taxes demanded.

“We request the Rwandan government to reduce on the taxes they chargeus because they are too high,” Umuhoza added.

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