DR Congo has waived Visa fees on Rwandans weeks after slapping new fees on Rwandans entering into the country following unprecedented fighting between the two neighbours.
The fees had hitherto destabilised relations between the two countries along two boarders of Eastern DR Congo.
Fees charged had been in three categories; $30 on students, $50 on small traders for 3 months and $250 every month for the working class.
Immigration officials say the decision had stopped more than 36,000 travelers from moving every day. The fees had irritated Rwanda; creating a diplomatic standoff between the two nations. Negotiations have since been going on behind the scenes to settle the matter.
On Friday morning, August 8, 2014, a three-day meeting held in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, immigration and customs officials from regional countries under the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), mediated the discussions that saw an end to the deadlock.
Regional members agreed that DR Congo stops with immediate effect, its policy of placing Visa restrictions on Rwandans. “DRC’s decision to place Visa charges on Rwandans was a mistake that breached CEPGL agreement,” said Harman Tuyaga, CEPGL Executive Secretary.
Ange Sebutege, the communications officer at Rwanda’s Directorate of Immigration said the resolutions taken during Bujumbura meeting brings hope back to Rwandans.
“We hope for no more breach of CEPGL agreement,” said Sebutege. He also said DR Congo’s decision had affected businesses.
Meanwhile, a better deal was reached. The two countries have instead agreed to increase working hours at the borders.
DR Congo is one of Rwanda’s biggest importers, amounting to roughly $37million annually.
By Dan Ngabonziza