Small scale traders, students, teachers, and medics traversing the Gisenyi-Goma border connecting Rwanda to neighbouring DR Congo started crossing over for their respective errands on Thursdays, November 5, according to sources on the ground.
Groups of registered and certified small scale cross-border traders, however, are obliged to organise themselves and have one member tested, freely, for Covid-19 before they transport merchandise to either side, in a bid to limit mass movements and thus prevent the spread of the pandemic.
Big businesses are also allowed to cross but they, just like doctors and teachers, pay for their Covid-19 tests.
The development comes after Rwandan and Congolese governors of the neighbouring Western Province and North Kivu Province, respectively, held a meeting Monday, November 2, and resolved to furthermore enhance cross-border trade while also stepping up measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alphonse Munyentwali, Governor of the Western Province, told The New Times that the meeting with his North Kivu counterpart, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, was initially convened to examine the Provinces’ joint Covid-19 effort “but we realised that there were other issues affecting the lives of our citizens to look into.”
Throughout the past eight months trade across the very busy border took a hit with small scale traders being the most affected.
“So, we agreed on setting up a joint mechanism of exchanging information in the continued fight against Covid-19. We also agreed to jointly fight illegal cross-border trade,” Munyentwali said.
The Rwanda-DR Congo border in Gisenyi and Goma, respectively, is one of the busiest border crossings on the continent.