The 14 cyclists on the expedition of the East African Community region continued with the journey to Uganda after being flagged off from Rwanda.
The group that arrived in Kigali on Thursday from Bujumbura, began the trip named, “Tour d’EAC” in Kampala on August 1, as they set out on a two-month cycling journey of the EAC countries with a mission to sensitize ordinary East Africans about the importance of the regional integration.
Addressing the media at the Ministry of EAC in Kimihurura, Kigali, where the cyclists were flagged off, John Balongo, the expedition overseer said, they are grateful for the generosity received when they arrived in Rwanda on Thursday night.
On Day 1 we peddled 90km from Kampala to Jinja, then to Busia before crossing to Kenya.
We continued to Arusha on Day 6 before setting off for Burundi covering a total distance of 3,000km.
We are happy to be in Rwanda and we are grateful for the hospitality and kindness we have received.
Balongo explained that, along the way, they don’t sleep in hotels but community centers but for the first time in Rwanda, they slept comfortably in a hotel.
The group which embarked on this trip without sponsorship feels that as people who cross borders looking for work in the region, the concept of EAC integration is not well-known by ordinary people and that is why they decided to create awareness using this initiative.
For almost every stop over that they have done either to fix their bikes or take a rest, the audacious cyclists find themselves surrounded by ordinary people.
So they use that chance to explain, walk around, talk to ordinary people, discover new things and socialize at the same time explaining the reason for riding across the EAC region.
At Nyabugogo in the heart of Kigali, the cyclists interacted with ordinary Rwandans, explaining to them the importance and benefits of EAC integration.
On behalf of the Government of Rwanda, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for East African Community Affairs, Innocent Safari, thanked the cyclists especially the single female rider, Maureen Kwagala.
The EAC integration program is very clear, it is people-centered. The initiative shows that the EAC integration is a reality and hopefully other partner states will follow.
Recently we had the EAC Military Games, the essence is to show that people are coming together
However, along their tour, the cyclists met some challenges including: theft of their two bicycles at Busia, Uganda-Kenya border.
Skipping South Sudan
Due to the suspect security concerns in South Sudan, the team will not tour the newest nation but plans are underway in the future when the situation stabilizes.
The cyclists set off from Kigali to Kampala, through Kabale, Mbarara, and Masaka in the Western Uganda before arriving at the South Sudanese Embassy in Kampala.
The closing and awarding ceremony will be held on 1st September 2016
[Text attributed to New Times]