The Bukavu-Bujumbura journey becomes very long after the closure of the border with Rwanda


The closure of the Ruhwa border in the northwest of Burundi with Rwanda by the Burundian government has generated problems with the movement of goods and people, impacting not only travel time but also the security of convoys. Traders and drivers are calling for the reopening of this border for the benefit of the population of Bukavu in the DRC as well as those of Cibitoke and Bujumbura in Burundi.

To reach Bukavu and before the borders closed, drivers coming from Bujumbura passed through the Ruhwa border which separates Burundi and Rwanda. They are now forced to take circuitous routes passing through the Gatumba border to reach Bukavu via Uvira.

A journey that once took only four hours has become a difficult all-day journey. “During our travels, we often experience vehicle breakdowns caused by the Uvira-Bukavu road which is almost impassable. The threats from armed bandits became numerous on the way to Bukavu,” says Juma, a driver met on the Siyoni market who regularly travels back and forth between Bujumbura and Bukavu.

Congolese from Bukavu, sometimes sick and fragile, who come to Bujumbura to seek care, face trying travel conditions using the DRC’s national road number 5.

This route, already subject to challenges, does not help the precarious state of health of these travelers. The shaking, potholes and poor road conditions exacerbate the physical suffering of patients who come to Bujumbura for treatment.

Prices that continue to rise

The economic consequences of this closure are felt by traders and passengers, who face grueling journeys and suffer financial losses. Perishable products purchased in Bujumbura risk being damaged before arriving in Bukavu, with what this represents in terms of losses in terms of money. What’s more, the price of public transport and food products is rising every day.

Travel agencies at the market known as Chez Siyoni, notably the Mupasa agency, are observing a significant decrease in bookings for trips between Bukavu and Bujumbura. The economic impact of this situation is felt not only by drivers and traders, but also by companies in the transport sector.

Before the closure of the Ruhwa border, a transport ticket could be purchased for example at 40,000 BIF for the Bujumbura-Ruhwa-Bukavu route. Today, it is sold for 60,000 BIF.

Immediately, drivers and traders who commute from Bujumbura to Bukavu are asking for an extension of the closing hours of the Gatumba border until 7 p.m. This would allow greater flexibility in trade and the movement of people between Burundi and the DRC.

“Diplomatic negotiations to resolve the dispute that exists today between Burundi and Rwanda are essential to restore cross-border connectivity and alleviate persistent challenges between the two countries. This could notably allow the rapid reopening of the Ruhwa border,” comments a passenger.

Source: Iwacu-Burundi

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