Chaotic scenes erupted on Monday at the Rusumo border as Tanzanian drivers blocked Rwandan counterparts from taking their cargo trucks.
As part of measures to stop the sudden explosion of COVID-19 for past two weeks caused by people from Tanzania who tested positive, Rwanda took a radical decision. More than 90% of Rwanda’s imports come through Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port.
As a result, hundreds of trucks have to enter via the Rusumo border on a daily basis. On a single day, 22 positive cases of the deadly virus were identified in Rwanda, taking its total higher, yet infections had been dropping significantly.
At the same time, Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli has refused to order lockdown of his country, causing international outrage, as deaths occur and infections increase. On Sunday, Magufuli made first public statement on why he was reluctant to close down Tanzania.
He cast doubt on the test kits mainly coming from China, by consequence, the virus itself. Magufuli said that through a secret scheme, his security team had sent samples of pawpaw, car oil, goat and sheep to the national lab with human names. The samples came back positive.
The revelations have caused a global storm, as people wonder what exactly is going on.
Rwanda Revenue Authority said last week that it had agreed with Tanzania counterparts on a plan to have Tanzania carge drivers stop at the Rusumo border. From here, the trucks would be sanitized and cleaned, then handed to Rwandan drivers to bring them to destinations in Rwanda and eastern Congo.
However, Tanzania government is said to have expressed reservations about the plan, which is seen in Tanzania as Rwanda’s attempt to tag the virus on Tanzania.
Today, Tanzanian drivers who are holed up at the Rusumo border organised small protest. In videos shared on social media, they are seen jumping on trucks as Rwandan drivers were beginning journey to Rwanda. The Tanzanians have refused to hand over their trucks.
There are also unconfirmed reports that Rwandan cargo trucks are not being allowed to cross into Tanzania as they travel to Dar es Salaam for more goods.
The Private Sector Federation in Rwanda said Monday in media interviews that it was in frantic discussions with Tanzania counterparts on the way forward.