By Alex Gahima
A delegation of Congolese Security, Customs and a section of the Business community under the Cross Border Trade Association (CBTA) yesterday held a closed door meeting with their Ugandan Counterparts in Maziba, Bunagana.
The meeting that was held behind closed quarters lasted several hours with little to no access by the media.
The Ugandan delegation was led by Kisoro Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Rtd. Captain Peter Mugisha who was accompanied by the Second division Commander of the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces Major General Francis Takirwa among other high ranking Ugandan military officers.
Kisoro RDC Rtd. Captain Peter Mugisha said matters of Security, especially between two countries cannot be discussed in the media.
He however noted that Uganda and DR. Congo relations are moving on smoothly adding that these meetings are routine.
This is the fifth meeting between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo Security forces and business community under the CBTA arrangement.
Irregular taxes on Traders discussed.
Major General Francis Takirwa explained that the meeting was a follow-up on the issues that have been raised by
He noted that these meetings have been taking place and will continue to do so to ensure good relations with the town countries.
“Some issues are security related and cannot be divulged while others are economical. As Security we have vowed to improve the environment for our traders from Uganda and DR. Congo to carry out profitable trade”, Takirwa explained
Traders Speak out
The Chairman of the Business community Kisoro district Byensi Expedito says he was well pleased with the meeting between the town countries.
Byensi explained that Customs has been having issues with traders who do not want to pay taxes and instead opt for illegal routes which poses a security threat.
He noted that not all products are taxed and therefore people do not need to worry.
“All Beverages are tax free, if you cross over from Uganda with your Bell lager or from Bunagana, DR. Congo with your Primus, you don’t have to endanger your life by passing through illegal routes, Customs will not bother you but then need to know what crossing over is”, said Byensi
The Chairperson of the Congolese Business community under CBTA Philip Nzabonimpa said their biggest problem has been illegal taxes from both the Congolese and Ugandan Government.
“We are often stopped by different security agencies asking for taxes. When we tell them we have paid, they still choose to extort from us and this has been affecting business between the two countries, Nzabonimpa explained.
Uganda exports social commodities including Beverages, fish, cement and other household items to DR. Congo while DR. Congo exports to Uganda beans, Soya beans and Irish potatoes.
In 2018, Uganda’s exports to DR. Congo amounted to 532 million US dollars, mainly made up of agricultural products while its imports consisted mainly of minerals and fuel.
Meeting ends on Jovial Mood
The Ugandan and Congolese Counterparts visited the Uganda- DR. Congo border where they inspected abandoned buildings in no man’s land which have been allegedly used by smugglers.
The two teams later returned to Safari Home Stay Foundation for refreshments. The theme was Congolese Music, plenty of meat, drinks and Conversation.
Also in attendance were the Bufumbira South Member of Parliament Alex Niyonsaba and Bufumbira North Member of Parliament John Kamala
Backdrop of Events
The development come following a land mark decision by Uganda and DR. Congo to construct three major roads connecting the two countries at an expected cost of 330 million US dollars.
Altogether, the roads include Mpondwe in Uganda to Beni in DRC (80kms), Bunagana in Uganda to the Port of Goma on the northern shore of Lake Kivu (89kms) and Beni (DRC) to the centre of Butemboa (54Kms) totaling to 223kms of road.