Rwanda faults cross-border movement for resurging virus cases

Tuesday June 2 2020

Rwandan President Paul Kagame looks on during

Rwandan President Paul Kagame looks on during the swearing in ceremony of new government officials in Kigali on June 1, 2020. PHOTO | URUGWIRO 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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A day after Rwanda reported 11 new Covid-19 cases, President Paul Kagame hinted at suspending resumption of public transport even as he blamed cross-border movement for the resurgence.

“Things that come to or leave Rwanda pass through other places, such as at Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. We suspect that these problems came from there or from our neighbouring countries,” said President Kagame, during the Monday swearing-in ceremony of new government officials.

“Much as we had successfully managed this pandemic, we realised that movements across the borders need us to re-evaluate so that the pandemic does not resurge and spread,” he added.

On Sunday, Rwanda reported 11 new Covid-19 cases, mostly people in border communities, and the death of a 65-year-old trucker, who returned home from a neighbouring country after falling sick.

Rwanda as of Monday had recorded 377 Covid-19 cases and one death. The number of recoveries stand at 262, according to the Health Ministry.

Kigali had earlier announced that public transport—including commercial motorcyclists—and inter-province travel would resume on June 1.

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“We had informed people that by June 1, this is what would happen. But things do not move on dates alone, but on what happened in order to get to that date. None of us can say that by a certain date everything will be okay and that the extraordinary times will be over, and that we shall go back to our normal lives,” said Kagame.

“We evaluate this with time but no one has the power to determine when it will end. This means that we must continue to fight against this problem and adjust accordingly until it is over. It is understandable that people were surprised. They spent days inside their homes and were eager for this date to come for them to start working. On Tuesday we shall have a meeting and evaluate what needs to be done. People can hold their breath for now,” added the president.

Mid-May, Rwanda and Tanzania resolved a falling out between long-distance truck drivers and authorities at the Rusumo Border Post. 

More than 1,000 trucks destined for Rwanda had been stuck at the Tanzanian border town of Benako following a strike by Tanzanian truckers who refused to comply with Kigali’s proposed relay system that would see them hand over their trucks to Rwandan drivers.

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