Trade Along Uganda-Congo Border in Kasese Paralyzed

1732 Views Kasese, Uganda
The collapse of the Rubiriha Mpondwe Bridge, which is the only link between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kasese district, has brought the busy cross-border traffic to a standstill. The 75-year-old bridge that was constructed by the colonial government collapsed yesterday evening. It caved in when a lorry carrying timber was making its way across the much-dilapidated structure. Traders at Rubiriha Market who spoke to Uganda Radio Network said that they have been complaining about the deterioration of the bridge for several years now to no avail. Today authorities on the Congo side of the border were making a killing out of the collapsed bridge, charging 2,000 shillings for everyone who managed to cross the river by boat. Lorries taking goods from Hima Cement Factory are parked along the road to the bridge waiting to cross into the DRC and hundreds of timber lorries destined for Uganda are stranded on the Congo side. Some traders have opted to use the route through Ishasha, but the distance is almost double that of the Rubiriha Mpondwe Bridge and the Ishasha Road is in a very poor condition. Sylvano Mulhondi, the Kasese Secretary for Works, says the Ministry of Works and Transport has sent a team of building experts to put up temporary repairs in order to allow the cross border traffic to continue. He warns the traders not to take advantage of the situation by unreasonably hiking the prices of their produce. The UPDF Second Division spokesperson, Kiconco Tabaro, says the security forces are monitoring the crossing to ensure that no rebels from the Congo attempt to enter the country.