Burundi is reopening its Gatumba border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from the town of Uvira following a long period of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Burundian Minister of Public Health,Thaddée Ndikumana, explained this move citing the high influx of people at this border compared to the other borders
He says “… any case that comes in is screened, so there is no risk, but in relation to the quarantine at Bujumbura International Airport, we have issued recommendations that have been submitted to the High Authority. We await the response,”
Local media report all foreigners entering Burundi through the Gatumba border have to pay US$30 for the COVID-19 test while Congolese living in Burundi will be allowed to return to the DRC through this border free of charge.
A Burundian returning home after getting stranded in DRC, Chantal Nsabimana, said they “… have been blocked for a year and three months from leaving the DRC because the borders were closed while (they were) on a family visit in Uvira (eastern Congo). As it has been a long time, some residence permits have expired and others have been lost.”
Another Congolese trader said the “… reopening is not going to help (us) because we cannot cross the border. We don’t have that $30, so how can we say that we are being helped? Trade works when you cross the border, get supplies and go back home,”
The Gatumba border was closed in March 2020 as part of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, on the DRC side, the Kavimvira border has been reopened since August 2020.