Monday January 31, 2022 marked a major milestone in the relations between Rwanda and Uganda as the Gatuna One Stop Border Post officially reopened on, three years after it was closed in February 2019.
If the traditional belief on either side of the border, that rain is a blessing, then indeed the reopening of the frontier became a major blessing as it rained from the wee hours of Monday morning till dawn.
The Government of Rwanda last week announced that it would reopen the border, following progress in the talks with Uganda, to resolve issues that led to its closer, trigger by the visit of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Operations and Commander of Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) on January 22.
The border reopened at midnight as January 31 first clocked on a rain socked night but movement was limited as the reopening coincided with curfew time which also starts at midnight.
Our reporters on the ground reported limited movement due to Covid-19 restrictions and rain which sort of dampened the mood but trucks could be seen streaming across either side of the border.
Residents on either side of the border expressed their excitement and thanked the leaders of the two countries for working out the issues that affected their livelihoods which largely depended on the border.
I thank our great leaders, President @KagutaMuseveni and @PaulKagame for fully opening our borders! This is a wonderful achievement. Now our people can freely move, trade and interact as Almighty God always intended! God bless East Africa! pic.twitter.com/Tbm9YqIzU3
— Muhoozi Kainerugaba (@mkainerugaba) January 31, 2022
“I am more than happy to see our border reopen. This means a lot to me. My life has depended on this border since childhood. Its closer affected not just me but my entire family,” said Eric Mwebembezi, a money changer on the Ugandan side, told KT Press, adding that he used to get most of the services such as banking and forex on the Rwandan side.
Gen. Muhoozi was among the first people to welcome the reopening, taking to Twitter to thank the leaders of the two countries for their efforts.
“I thank our great leaders, President @KagutaMuseveni and @PaulKagame for fully opening our borders! This is a wonderful achievement. Now our people can freely move, trade and interact as Almighty God always intended! God bless East Africa!” Muhoozi tweeted.
In a different tweet, Gen. Muhoozi posted the photo of his father and President Kagame, describing them as his heroes. The reopening of the Gatuna border has been hailed by the African Union (EAC) and the East African Community (EAC) as a major milestone as the two countries look to normalise relations.