Trade between Rwanda and Burundi has continued to decline after over 95 per cent of Rwandan traders suspended their operations waiting for the ongoing political tensions between the two countries to cool.
Some traders especially those in the transport business, are blaming the government of Rwanda for not responding to their plight, saying the quietness of their country at a time they are being blatantly attacked has surprised them.
Although businesses had been affected since the beginning of the current political strife in Burundi over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s push for a third term, political tension that is brewing between the Rwanda and Burundi has made Rwandan traders doing business in Burundi a target of mistreatment by the countries authorities.
Burundi has accused Rwanda of supporting anti President Nkurunziza’s protest, claims that Kigali has denied.
“The way things stand, we are very worried, we are being targeted, I don’t even want to give information to you people in the media, when we talk to you, authorities in Burundi get angrier. They recently arrested my employee after we talked to a foreign paper, we have no security at all,” said a manager of one of the transport companies, who preferred anonymity for fear of his company becoming a victim.
“Volcano offices were recently attacked after they shared information, the authorities in Burundi are so arrogant, they instantly revenge when we share anything about our plight, our government is not doing anything about our situation,” he added.
He said although his company has survived attacks, business environment is difficult because their compatriots like Volcano have suspended operations
“They forcefully remove our passengers from the car, and because of these unpleasant situations, the number of passengers has significantly reduced, and we are in losses, we are just praying that this nightmare stops,” he added.
The most affected are transporters of both passengers and goods, who have been subjected to attacks from Burundian authorities, where some have been attacked, others arrested and imprisoned in unknown locations.
Col Twahirwa Dodo, president of Rwanda Federation of Transporters Co-operatives, said the situation is currently bad for business especially transporters He said the unrest in Burundi has not only affected those directly doing business there, but even the transporters working in other routes connecting to Bujumbura.
“Businesses are making losses, there used to be a lot of cargo from Kampala to Kigali with Burundi being the eventual destination, this revenue stream has completely dropped because of the problems in Burundi,” he added.