This ban, imposed at the Mutukula border post, has left numerous trucks stranded for over a week, sparking fears of an unreasonable increase in rice prices.
Under the auspices of the Kampala Rice Traders Association, importers of rice have accused the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) of having a conflict of interest and being impatient in handling the situation.
The dispute started last week when rice-carrying trucks were refused permission to enter Uganda, a decision that confused many in the business.
In an effort to find a solution, merchants met with URA representatives to talk about the issue, but as worries and critiques were expressed, the discussion quickly turned tense.
The already unstable situation was made worse by importers’ accusations against URA of insensitivity and conflict of interest.
When URA inspectors started removing rice samples for testing from the stalled trucks without the importers’ permission, it became one of the main areas of disagreement.
The importers are unaware of the status of their shipments because the findings of these tests have not yet been made public.
Abel Kagumire, the URA Commissioner of Customs, made an effort to clarify the matter by stating that the embargo was imposed following Tanzania’s notification to Uganda in April regarding its rice scarcity.
Concerns were raised by this notification about the origin of the rice being imported into Uganda. The East African Common Market Protocol states that member countries’ food items have reduced taxes.