Business activities have resumed at Butembo-Beni in North Kivu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, ten days after they were suspended following attacks by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels on trucks carrying goods on the Kasindi-Beni highway.
Operators began work on Thursday, July 21, seeing the importation of merchandise through the Kasindi customs post, where activities had been suspended.
During exchanges on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Butembo between economic operators and a North Kivu provincial government delegation, participants agreed on the escort of trucks and joint patrols involving the DR Congo national army, FARDC, the Congolese federal police, PNC and the Ugandan Peoples’ Defense Forces UPDF.
The joint patrol would protect persons and their goods, especially merchandise, on the risky Kasindi-Beni highway.
“We have decided to resume exportation and importation activities today, Thursday. That signifies that we will organise vehicle convoys from Beni to Kasindi concerning exportation and return to Kasindi with merchandise for importation,” said David Kamuha, principal counsellor to the military governor of North Kivu in charge of finance.
“We have taken the engagement to secure the goods and persons by organising mixed police, FARDC and UPDF patrols. There will also be escorts on the Beni-Kasindi highway. We think with all these measures; we will be able to secure merchandise, the drivers, and all persons on that highway.”
The provincial government of North Kivu would bear the financial expenses and logistics. This decision has been hailed by the economic operators demanding the patrols, fearing that the convoys were another occasion for under-the-table dealings by the security services.
The business people have decided to resume import-export through Kasindi and reassured the residents of the drop in the prices of several commodities, notably fuel, which recently spiked in the market.
“We have agreed with the authorities that from tomorrow (today, Thursday, July 21, 2022), we will resume import-export through Kasindi by ensuring the application of all the measures agreed upon. We have only this arm to protect ourselves,” said Guillaume Mukyambuli, vice president of the Federation of Congolese Enterprises (FCE) for Butembo-Lubero.
We have shown shortcomings in the security of goods on the road. We hope things will improve. On the increase in prices of goods in the market, do not worry. They will be reduced because traders are reassured of their merchandise.
The government, on its part, thinks the worst has been avoided.
“That is the big measure taken with our partners of the FEC for the resumption of economic activities to avoid committing the same error like the enemy who, besides the war of arms which has been imposed on us in Rutshuru and Beni, can again plunge us into an economic war which is fatal,” Kamuha added.
On July 7, 2022, economic operators of Butembo-Beni decided to suspend the importation and exportation of merchandise through the Kasindi border, one of the most critical border posts in the country, due to losses incurred following repeated attacks against vehicles carrying goods by ADF rebels on the Kasindi-Beni highway.
For certain burnt-down vehicles, losses were estimated at over 100,000 US dollars, excluding the engines. Between June and July 2022 alone, the Butembo civil society said it had counted 11 burnt vehicles, even as a joint military operation between the DR Congo army and Ugandan forces was going on.
Economic operators have called for the area to be declared a disaster zone and for tax exemptions due to the repeated attacks on commercial trucks by the ADF rebels.
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