Kabale. Tourism investors in Kigezi Sub-region have appealed to the East African Community leadership to prevail over the border row between Rwanda and Uganda and warned that it may scare away tourists.
The chairperson for the Kigezi Tourism Cluster, Mr Ivan Mbabazi Batuma, said yesterday that whereas small tourist cars are allowed to cross to Rwanda through Katuna and Cyanika border posts, the tension that resulted in the restriction of Rwandan nationals from entering Uganda and a ban on cargo trucks from using the border points shall scare away tourists.
“Tourists are very sensitive about their security. If the current tension between Rwanda and Uganda is not urgently resolved, the tourism industry shall be seriously affected,” Mr Batuma said.
“We appeal to the East African Community to urgently engage the two heads of state for an urgent resolution to end the tension,” he added.
Mr Batuma explained that majority of tourists that visit Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks to watch climbing lions and track mountain gorillas respectively have been using the Katuna and Cyanika border posts to access Kigali airport in Rwanda for easy connection to their home countries.
The officer-in-charge of customs at Katuna, Mr Emmanuel Bamanya, on Wednesday said the Rwanda side of the border has remained closed to cargo trucks although the Ugandan side is open for all vehicles.
Some traders have decided to hire stores in the area as they wait for the two countries to resolve the conflict.
“About 1,000 tonnes of dry cassava, 600 tonnes of posho and about 300 tonnes of dry beans have been off loaded from different trucks and kept in hired stores at Cyanika border town,” said Mr Geoffrey Nombe Barore, the chairperson of the business community at Cyanika border post.
Mr Bamanya explained that all the cargo trucks that had parked at Katuna border town have been escorted to Mirama hills border post in Ntungamo District where they are allowed to enter Rwanda.