Security officials from Uganda and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday met in the south western Kisoro district, to discuss ways of promoting peace between both countries.
Top on the agenda at the meeting was finding ways of preventing citizens from illegally crossing the porous border.
“With COVID-19, we need to avoid the use of illegal border entry points to avoid the transmission and spread of the disease that could cause security threats,” Elly Maate, the Kigezi region police spokesperson said.
The closed door meeting was held at Safari Homestay hotel in Kisoro and attended by a delegation of Congolese Security, Customs officials and a section of the Business community under the Cross Border Trade Association (CBTA).
The Ugandan team was led by Kisoro RDC Captain Peter Mugisha who was accompanied by the Second Division Commander of the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces Major General Francis Takirwa among other Ugandan military officers.
Speaking thereafter, RDC Mugisha said this was the 5th meeting of the kind and that several more were on the way.
On his part, Maj. Gen. Francis Takirwa declined to divulge some of the details of the meeting, because they were security-related.
“As Security we have vowed to improve the environment for our traders from Uganda and DR. Congo to carry out profitable trade” Takirwa explained.
Philip Nzabonimpa, the Chairperson of the Congolese Business community under CBTA said their biggest problem has been 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.
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.