BUJUMBURA June 3rd (ABP) – The Gatumba border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which had been closed by the government of Burundi in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19, has been reopened since Tuesday June 1, a check by ABP revealed.
That reopening was declared by the Director General of Police, Air and Borders, Chief Police Commissioner Maurice Mbonimpa, around 9 a.m.
Congolese and Burundians can now cross it. It was a sigh of relief for those whose business activities had been hampered by that border closure.
However, users of the said border were quick to complain about the fees required to enter Burundi, $ 30 for Congolese and 15,000 BIF for Burundians and each time one enters. They consider that sum to be very high, since in Congo, the Burundians pay a sum of $ 5, with 14-day validity.
According to Mr. Abana Wema Mbaruye, a Congolese who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, the sum is exorbitant for Congolese entering Burundi.
For Mr. Ezéchiel Garumba Bahe, a Congolese citizen who returned to his country after a week of stay in Burundi, each country has the right to set the price as it sees fit. But the risk is that the DRC risks revising upwards the $ 5, he said, while asking that the two governments work together to revise the tariffs downwards. It did not take long to fall because already at 11 a.m., the Congolese were charging $ 10 to Burundians who were going to their country.
Asked about those lamentations, the Burundi’s Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr Thadée Ndikumana, indicated that it is first of all in compliance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization that those $ 30 and 15,000 BIF have been set so that people tested positive for Covid-19 are not turned away, but that they are taken care of in Burundi. Examinations and drugs are expensive, Dr Ndikumana added, explaining that the decision was taken by the national commission responsible for closely monitoring the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Ndikumana did not rule out the possibility of those tariffs being revised downwards, but said that the decision is in the hands of the commission and that it will look into it.
The Minister in charge of Public Health, accompanied by a team of staff from the United Nations system, visited the care post for those displaced by the Gatumba floods located at Kinyinya II in the Gatumba zone. WHO and UNICEF have provided assistance with medical and non-medical kits. Mosquito nets and soaps have been distributed, the check by ABP revealed.
In his speech, the governor of Bujumbura province said he was satisfied with the contribution of the ministry in charge of public health and the United Nations system organizations. However, even if care is free in the camp, those displaced people find it difficult to obtain treatment once they are referred to health facilities in the City of Bujumbura where they are asked to pay a guarantee while they are destitute, he regretted, hoping that the supervisory ministry will find a solution to that problem.
The WHO representative in Burundi, Dr Xavier Crespin, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed his satisfaction with the arrangements made at the Kinyinya II IDP site and the efforts that the government of Burundi has made to take burden of certain diseases such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARI). He was glad to see that there was no alarming situation.
Beyond that aspect of health, Dr Crespin revealed that they left that visit very comforted. Indeed, he said, they had also gone to Gatumba to see the multisectoral response because beyond health, there is the hand washing device, hygiene and sanitation, reproduction, but also the issue of children’s education. It is to all these questions that an answer has been given, he stressed.
The Minister in charge of Public Health announced that the government is committed to assisting the displaced people of Gatumba by accompanying them so that they do not have major problems until the return to normal. “Healthcare must be free for these displaced persons, including in the city council healthcare facilities,” Minister Ndikumana declared, with a recommendation to the provincial doctor of Bujumbura to approach his colleague from the City of Bujumbura to settle the matter, with the support of the supervisory ministry.