February 28, 2019

Uganda-Rwanda: ‘Internet Cut, Trucks Diverted, Travelers Blocked…’

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View from above of the Gatuna border

There have been usual developments this Thursday in connection to Rwanda-Uganda relations.

First, at around 11am Rwandan time, people were posting on social media that they were at the Gatuna border and were unable to cross to Uganda. Gatuna links Gicumbi district to Uganda’s Kabale district.

One post said her family had been refused to cross to Uganda as they headed for wedding. Another said they were at border stuck and there were “very many” goods trucks on Uganda side which had blocked the road.

Another post from the Cyanika border linking Burera district to Kisoro district in Uganda, said no Ugandan vehicles were crossing to Rwanda. The post claimed even people on foot were not being allowed to cross to either borders.

Around 12pm, the Uganda Revenue Authority posted on Twitter and issued a statement later that heavy trucks from Uganda-Rwanda were being diverted due to construction on Rwandan side of border.

It posted: “In light of the need to expedite construction works to complete the Gatuna OSBP infrastructure by the Rwanda Revenue Authority, heavy trucks have been diverted to Kagitumba/Mirama Hills Border Post effective today.”

It has also emerged that internet link from Uganda to Rwanda is down. Liquid Telecom whose fiber cables bring internet from Uganda to Rwanda, has lost its cable.

Apparently, the cable got cut around 5km from Masaka town in central Uganda. The cut was due to construction works in the area.

A source told us that usually, when there is such an incident, they have a backup link. However, even that link has been cut off. “It is a very unusual situation. It has never happened before,” the source said.

But added: “Our teams are on the ground, we should be back in service in about 30mins.”

Meanwhile, in Rwandan the internet service providers we spoke to said they were depending on broadband link from Tanzania, which is causing slow speeds in Rwanda.

Our reporter posed as a traveler in the Nyabugogo bus terminal in Kigali and found the Uganda-bound buses were giving tickets as usual. “It does not seem like there is anything unusual happening,” he said.

In Rwanda, by press time, we were unable to speak to the Rwanda Revenue Authority or the Immigration and Emigration Directorate.


UPDATE 15h: Liquid Telecom has restored internet in Rwanda to full service. It is unclear if the cable has been completely repaired or a tentative solution has been found

UPDATE 16h23: Rwanda Revenue Authority letter to Uganda Revenue Authority confirming the diversion of heavy trucks from Uganda away from Gatuna border to Kagitumba border. (See letter below). It means, the trucks already at Gatuna must make another journey to return back to Uganda, via Ntungamo district, on to Kagitumba.

UPDATE 20h: Rwanda Revenue Authority releases statement explaining what was contained in the letter to URA. The statement also says heavy trucks are diverted from Gatuna to Kagitumba border

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