The past 10 days have come with mixed fortunes for Traders and Passengers that ply the Uganda-Rwanda route.
On one hand, there has been traffic interruption following the 14th May landslides that damaged the Katuna-Kigali road, 4 kilometers inside Rwanda and made it impassable for loaded trucks.
5 days later, on 19th May, more rains and landslides damaged the same road, but this time on the Ugandan side, at Kyonyo, about 2 kilometers to the Katuna border – also making it impassable for loaded trucks.
These two occurrences, consequently forced the authorities in Uganda and Rwanda to divert traffic of heavy trucks from the Kabale-Katuna-Kigali road to Ntungamo-Mirama Hills/Kagitumba One Stop Border Post to-Kigali.
To the people on the Kabale-Katuna-Kigali route, the diversion is an inconvenience that means lesser business and income follow altogether.
But, for the people between Ntungamo-Mirama-Kagitumba up to Kigali, it is booming business as hundreds of trucks are now passing that side.
But in the face of whatever has happened, two things came out clearly.
First, the Kabale-Katuna route needs fundamental renovations on both the road itself and the supporting infrastructure. The fact that the Katuna One Stop Border Post construction has stalled for years, says a lot about the state of this border post as the main route between Uganda and Rwanda.
On the other side, the Ntungamo-Mirama-Kagitumba route is new, and has a well developed handling point , read One Stop Border Post. Both its access roads and the One Stop Border Post were developed using funds availed by TradeMark East Africa and its partners mainly United Kingdom’s Department for International Development – DFID.
Truth be told, using google maps calculations, from Ntungamo to Kigali via Kabale is a shorter journey – about 192 kilometers while from Ntungamo to Kigali via Mirama is about 222 kilometers. This gives a difference of about 30 kilometers.
But minus that, it is also important to understand the Ntungamo-Kabale-Katuna-Kigali route is hilly, somewhat mountainous with endless curves. One the other hand, the Ntungamo-Mirama-Kagitumba-Kigali route is fairly flat with less hills and curves.
The long and short of this is that Katuna and Mirama hills present two contrasts. Though led to the same destination – Kigali, they are far apart in terms of development.
While both routes should always be available, it is clear that as things look currently, the Mirama Hills road should be the route of choice for traders and passengers alike.