There is disbelief in Rwanda following DR Congo’s decision to impose new travel restrictions on Rwandan nationals seeking to go to Goma.
Since Thursday morning, Rwandan traders cannot cross from Rubavu to Goma via the two border points. They are required to obtain residence visa which costs $20 (Rwf 18,000) for “small workers” and $300 (Rwf 276,200) for officials or people with big businesses.
As a result, hundreds of Rwandans working in Goma’s informal sector have not been able to cross.
A directive issued by DRC’s General Directorate of Immigration (DGM) in Kinshasa says Congo is implementing visa changes that were planned before.
The body also says it is reciprocating work permit requirements in Rwanda imposed on Congolese workers and students.
DGM also says soon there will be visa requirement on Rwandans going to study in Goma.
The new directive does not seem to affect Rusizi-Bukavu border in south Kivu, as business is going on unhindered, according people in the region.
There has yet to be official reaction from Rwanda, indicating there could be intense behind-the-scene diplomacy to diffuse the impasse.
This latest change to Congo’s border policy comes as it struggles with a devastating ebola epidermic where hundreds have died, and many hundreds infected.
In the past 24hours, the virus has also reached Bukavu, where one person has died and another infected.
Rwanda and Congo last week agreed to work together to deal with the virus.