Minister rallies grassroots support for EAC protocols
The Minister for EAC affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, has embarked on a one-week tour to the country’s border districts to monitor the progress of implementation of the EAC protocols.
According to the minister, the tour is aimed at assessing how EAC agreements like the Customs Union are implemented right from the lower administrative units.
“The tour will also enable us to know how much the local people have benefited from the integration and the existing limitations that need intervention,” said Mukaruliza.
The Customs Union protocol which was signed by all five EAC member states in 2010, stresses easy cross-border trade, among other issues, where citizens of member countries can do business across borders without any limitations.
On her visit to Bugesera District, yesterday, the minister met several users of Ruhuha Market, at the Rwanda-Burundi border. The market attracts over 650 Rwandan traders, and 5,000 buyers from both countries.
The traders expressed optimism on the Customs Union, noting that they have realised increase in customers while a big number of Burundians currently do their shopping from the market.
Edward Shuhe one of the traders said; “About 30 percent of our customers come from Burundi; they buy foodstuffs like cassava flour, corn, cooking oil, construction materials and clothes- all which are cheaper here than in Burundi.”
Matayo Nyandwi, another trader, added that Burundians come to the market freely and shop in bulk, which maximises their sales.
“In fact, the market has become so vibrant now that we plan to broaden and open up stores in Burundi.”
Burundians also bring some commodities to the market, particularly domestic animals like goats and chicken.
They transport the merchandise by boat across Ruhuha Lake which separates the two borders.
During the minister’s tour of the lake shores, Burundians who were ready to transport their goods across hailed the reforms introduced after the integration, and Rwanda’s proactive efforts to facilitate cross-border trade.
They, however, called on both governments to introduce temporary papers that can enable traders to shop as far as Kigali, without necessarily travelling to Bujumbura for a passport; an issue which the Minister said will be effective after introduction of the EAC common identity cards.
By Emma Munyaneza, Tanzania Daily News
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