Tour D’EAC 2019 on going

12 cyclists from four member states of the East African Community were flagged off by the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at the Independence monument in Kampala.

The cyclists from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania started their 50-days tour around the five EAC countries including the four represented states and Rwanda to complete the list.

Dr. Kivejinja urged the cyclists to spread the message about integration wherever they go stating that the union has endless benefits to the member states which can only be archieved through venturing in it.

“I want to assure Ugandans that our commitment to EAC integration becomes stronger by the day. We shall therefore continue to support such endeavors because of the enormous achievements that we have realized in our 20-year integration journey,” said Kivejinja who was the guest speaker on the event.

The Minister mentioned to the press that the East African integration efforts have enabled the free movement of people, goods and services across borders of neighbouring countries which has facilitated trade and commerce with in the region.

The aim of the Annual East African Bicycle Tour, code named Tour d’EAC, is to promote the spirit of the East Africanness among the people of East Africa, promote tourism and business potential of the Community while enhancing the awareness of social and cultural peculiarities of people and places in the East African Community. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to bring the citizens of East Africa to own the integration process.

The East African Bicycle Tour is an expression of unity, oneness, togetherness and peace. By riding through all the East African countries, the ties that bind East Africans together is renewed and strengthened. The event welcomes every East African from whatever part of the region to take part.

The route of the 3rd Bicycle tour will cover Kampala-Jinja-Malaba on the Ugandan side. On the Kenyan side, to will pass through Malaba-Eldoret-Nakuru-Nairobi-Kajiado to Namanga.

On the Tanzanian side, the tour will connect Namanga-Longido-Arusha-Moshi-Dar es Salaam-Chalinze-Morogoro-Gairo-Dodoma-Nzega to Tabora. From Tabora, it will pass through Usinge and enter Burundi through Mugina-Manyonvu border.

In Burundi, the tour will connect Rumonge-Bujumbura-Ngozi-to Rwanda border then to Kigali. From Kigali, the tour will pass through Ruhengeri to Kisoro-Kihihi-Mbarara then to Kampala. The Campfire Logs Guild is partnering with several persons/or organizations in the Partner States to undertake the 3rd EAC Bicycle Tour.

“Our major border crossings are now open 24 hour a day.We have simplified requirements for cross border travel and you just need your National ID to travel to any of the partner states of the EAC either using an interstate pass or a temporary travel permit,” he assured.

Dr. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja addressing the media at the Independence monument grounds. (PHOTO/Sseggirinya Cosmas)

However it has come to the notice of PML daily  that not all EAC countries have let their borders lose for traders and visitors from member states without passports.

In an interview with PML Daily, Dr. Kivejinja however down played all the allegations that some countries in the region have tightened their borders making them hard to access.

The current rows between Rwanda and Uganda have been an impediment to smooth transportation of goods and people to and from the two states ever since Rwanda decided to close its border with Uganda accusing the neighbor of supporting rebels that are destabilising peace in their territory.

Leaving the bad blood between partner states aside, the East African Community has grappled with a couple of other challenges that are threatening the successful integration of the sub continent.

Speaking on a panel discussion about the EAC and Brexit at the Kampala Geopolitics conference in Kampala last year 2018, Associate Prof. Apuuli Kasaija a lecturer of political science at Makerere University highlighted bad governance and lack of a competent system as the major factors for the likely collapse of the region’s Integration.

According to John Balongo, the team leader and founder of the East African Bicycle Tour, the initiative intends to spread the message about integration to the people in the region.

“The purpose of this tour is to inform people about integration because some people don’t understand what the EAC is,” he said.