Pandemonium broke out at Benako near the Rusomo border point with Rwandan truck drivers being blocked by their Tanzanian counterparts over Kigali’s new measures to control the spread of Coronavirus.
“You claim we have Coronavirus, why are you coming to our country?” charged a group of Tanzanian truck drivers at their Rwandan colleagues on Monday.
“Get out of the truck; get out,” they chanted.
“If we can’t go to your country, please don’t come to ours.”
The incident at Rusumo comes just days after Rwanda started implementing the relay trucking system whereby Tanzanian truck drivers swap with local drivers on arrival at the border.
The Tanzanian truck drivers have since protested the relay system, wondering why Rwanda, which also has a large number of COVID-19 patients, sends its drivers to Tanzania.
Rwanda also required all customs clearing processes to be carried out at the entry border points.
Videos show Rwandan truck drivers being pelted with stones by Tanzanian truck drivers.
— ChimpReports (@ChimpReports) May 5, 2020
Tanzania has lately turned into an epicenter of the novel virus.
The latest developments underscore East African Community’s challenges in jointly countering the virus that has ravaged economies and killed tens of thousands of people across the world.
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli has since been criticized for his poor response to the pandemic, undermining the region’s efforts to fight COVID-19.
The Rusumo border is a vital link which supports the regional integration objectives of the EAC and the Great Lakes Region, contributing to poverty reduction and regional integration across Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Rwanda last year decided to reduce reliance on the northern corridor (Kenya-Uganda) as its main trade route due to its sour bilateral relations with Uganda.
Kigali opted for the central corridor whereby Rwandan exports and imports transit through Rusomo to and from the Indian Ocean.
Disruptions in Rusumo would hurt Rwanda’s economy which is already grappling with the impact of COVID-19.
By Tuesday, the situation was said to be under control with Kigali and Dodoma working closely with representatives of the truck drivers’ associations to resolve the crisis.