As presidential and parliamentary campaigns in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) take a violent turn, Rwandans operating businesses there risk closure as they become targets.
The presidential elections slated for November 28, have seen cross-border businesses decline, hence a decrease in customs revenues, particularly in the last three days, according to the Rwanda Revenue Authority.
“The violence has been at its highest in the last three days, that’s when we experienced a slump in business activities across the border with DR Congo,” said Patrick Mawiya, a tax official in the western region.
A group of people this week attacked and vandalised Amani Petro Station which they allege belongs to one Desire Rwabahenda, believed to be a Rwandan.
“We are working in fear for our lives and property since we are targeted. We are constantly told to go back to Rwanda and work from there,” said one Jaguar bus services employee who works from DR Congo.
Mawiya confirmed the impact of the electoral violence to the country’s economy noting that commodities previously imported from DRC were unavailable.
“But fortunately, we still export ours although traders are a bit reluctant to cross the border.
“The only good thing is that the number of smugglers that we arrest has also gone down in the last week because they don’t have the liberty to do it due to the violence,” added Mawiya.
Traders also say that their business hours have been altered as they have to first assess the situation.