Over 60 members of Katuna business community have petitioned the State minister of Planning, David Bahati, over the planned diversion of trailers, buses and trucks heading to Rwanda, to the Ntungamo-Mirama Hills route.
The traders fear that the diversion of the trucks will severely affect business in the border town of Katuna which has been heavily dependent on the Kenyan, Ugandan and Rwandan truckers.
In their petition, the traders through Katuna Town Council asked Minister Bahati to intervene and stop the diversion.
These said they learned of a Trade Mark East Africa meeting in Kigali on 25th May 2018, which was attended by Uganda and Rwanda Revenue Authority officials, in which it was resolved that all trucks heading to Rwanda must pass through Mirama Hills border following the collapse of a section of the Katuna road.
Nelson Nshangabasheija, the Katuna Town Council LCIII Chairperson, says some officials who attended the meeting conveyed the message to the traders and local leaders; informing them that the resolution was to be effected within seven days from 25th May 2018.
He says the decision was taken in bad faith and was likely to kill the booming 24/7 business at Katuna.
Nshangabasheija fears the Town council will lose revenue from local communities selling agricultural products, facilities such as lodges and hotels, Forex bureaus among others.
However, Daniel Karumuzo, the URA supervisor for Katuna and Mirama border posts, said he was not aware of the directive from their offices and described the traders’ fears as just rumors.
Minister Bahati nonetheless reassured the traders that the diversion is temporary due to the condition of the road.
“I have been told that the diversion is just a temporary measure because of the collapsed section of the Kabale- Katuna-Kigali road. We appeal to traders to traders to stay calm,” said Bahati.
On 18th May 2018, a section of the Kabale-Katuna Road at Kanyanjoka village in Katuna town council collapsed after a downpour; just a week after another portion of the road about 4Km from Katuna sunk in.
Eng. Augustine Kabanda, the Uganda National Roads Authority station engineer for Kabale, said although they have managed to fix the damaged road section by compacting the marram, they are still studying the ground and soil behaviour before they can tarmac it.