GICUMBI/KIGALI — Gatuna border post was the first to extend working hours as part of the new government policy to make all borders work 24 hours.
The customs immigration offices will be open from 6.00 am to 10.00 pm unlike before when they closed at 6.00 pm. The operations will extend to a 24-hour basis once the Ugandan side of the border also adopts the new policy.
Eugene Torero, the Deputy Commissioner General of the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) said Monday night that extending operational time at East Africa’s borders will enhance economic development of member countries.
He was speaking at a function to officially launch the extension of operational time at the Rwanda-Uganda border.
Torero added that longer working hours would also ensure timely movement of essential commodities needed for local consumption and industrial development.
Coming weeks after Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, directed customs officials at Mombasa port to operate 24 hours, seven days a week, Torero suggested that the new move would pave pay for a 24-hour operation at Rwanda’s borders with neighbouring countries.
Flanked by Anaclet Kalibata, the Director General of Immigration and Emigration, Torero said, “Gatuna border will be open 24 hours by January 2009.”
Kalibata attributed the new development to combined efforts by various partners including the Ministry of Infrastructure, Electrogaz, Rwanda National Police and RRA.
“Immigration, Police and Rwanda Revenue Authority staff has been beefed up to facilitate cross-border movement of people and trucks,” said Kalibata.
Annette Birungi, the RRA spokesperson told The New Times that extending operational time at other Rwanda borders would soon be considered.
“We started with Gatuna, but we will roll it to other borders depending on demand,” she said.
Traders including importers and money changers who talked to The New Times hailed the government’s decision describing it as a significant milestone in Rwanda’s efforts to enhance cross-border business.
“Extending operational time underlines Rwanda’s commitment to easing the flow of goods,” an importer said.
“It will enable us make more profits from many passengers,” said Reuben Ruzindana, a money changer at the border.