East African regional bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is working to resolve cross-border restrictions and ease the passage of travellers, goods, and services among member states by drafting a new protocol.
During a technical review meeting of high-level experts at the Commonwealth Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo, Kampala, on Monday, the technocrats said the new protocol was drafted following a unanimous decision by all IGAD member states.
The draft was as outlined in the 1986 IGAD establishment agreement, trade unions, and by the East African Community, the Daily Monitor reported.
The protocol comes at a time when Rwanda and Uganda are engaged in a trans-border conflict with mutual accusations of the harbouring of political dissidents by the other side.
Rwanda closed its Katuna border post with Uganda about three weeks ago causing huge losses to transport and businesses between the two East African countries.
The forced closure of the busiest border post, which previously operated 24 hours a day, has reduced the flow of goods and people at Katuna to a fraction of what it previously was.
IGAD’s protocol seeks to resolve the ongoing conflict by addressing major issues, including free movement of people with the aim of abolishing visas, labour mobility, infrastructure development, and encouraging the establishment of business and residency.
The protocol will also address issues of drought, famine, and climate change among member countries
IGAD expert Dr Mehari Taddele said there were many border conflicts between African countries and these problems have been caused by the absence of a direct protocol to address various issues.
When the first protocol was established, these cross-border issues were almost non-existent. They arose after various African countries assumed sovereignty and political affiliations were developed, Taddele explained.
– African News Agency