Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed on temporarily opening borders for essential services amidst standing measures taken to prevent spread of the new coronavirus.
The decision was taken this Monday during a joint cross border meeting between Rwandan and DR Congo officials aimed at assessing the Covid19 situation along the Bukavu-Goma border posts.
In a meeting held in Goma town, by Alphonse Munyantwali, the Governor of the Western province in Rwanda and the DR Congo side represented by North Kivu Governor, Nzanzu Carly Kasivita, both governors agreed on allowing education and healthcare staff, students, sick persons and permanent employees to cross the two borders.
“We didn’t open the borders but instead agreed on allowing some categories of persons to employees and students to cross over with legal travel documents and stay in the destination country without crossing every day,” said Alphonse Munyantwali, the Governor of the Western province.
The Rwanda-DR Congo borders with North Kivu are composed of two kinds of border post, the Grande and Petite barrière (Major and Minor Border).
The latter is normally the busiest part of the border areas where one can see flocks of small, medium traders crossing with charts full of cargo and others carrying merchandise on fabricated tri-cycle carriers.
The two borders also serve as entry and exit points for persons on business trip, pleasure or education visits crossing into each of the countries either on foot or in transit vehicles.
To limit the spread of Covid-19, all these activities had been shifted to only the Grande barrière, so as to allow both sides to easily monitor movements and ensure preventive measures are under control.
To allow continuation of these business activities, the meeting also discussed possibilities of allowing cross border trade but limited it to only using the minor border posts with strict coronavirus prevention measures in place.
In this category both governors agreed on allowing cooperatives and trade associations to operate.
The governors also agreed to continue to build a peaceful business environment along the two borders to ease doing business.
The partial opening comes at a time when Rwanda has started reopening its school year programs which have been suspended for seven months, affecting both in-country and cross-border students.
As of November 3, Coronavirus Cases in DR Congo stand at 11,395, with 308 deaths and 10,768 recoveries; while Rwanda has 5,155 cases, 35 deaths and 4,922 recoveries.