Traders back to Juba amid security concerns

Ugandan traders have started returning to South Sudan even when they are not sure fighting has stopped.

Hassan Mugisha, a dealer in food products based in Kisenyi, told The Observer that some traders were going back to Juba because they can’t thrive in Uganda. He said many traders had found a ready market in Juba and sitting in Kam- pala means losing it.

“We are going back to work now that there’s some peace in South Su- dan,” Mugisha said. “I am an established supplier in Juba and my clients there are waiting for this food. The situation is not yet calm but that’s the condition we have been working in ever since the country was formed. It’s always un- certain in South Sudan.”

Eazzy Banking

The conflict in South Sudan first broke out in December 2013 but there was semblance of sanity early this year when Riek Machar, formerly the rebel, accepted to be the first vice president while Salva Kiir, the full president.

The conflict resurrected again last month after the two strong men failed to trust each other, leading to hundreds of Ugandan traders to flee the country. Machar has been fired as vice president and there are fears of more fighting.

Bashir Bajjebamwite, a truck driver plying the Kampala-Juba route, said business had started to pick up in major towns like Juba although there were some insecure pockets off major roads and in the villages.

“It is mostly cargo trucks entering South Sudan. The environment is starting to pick up because there is security from UN forces,” Bajjebamwite said.

Trucks headed to South Sudan

He added that the en- trance fee paid at the Uganda-South Sudan boarder had dropped from $100 to $15 and this has encouraged more truck drivers to enter.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), the war has greatly impacted on South Sudan’s inflation which has risen an unprecedented 600 per cent over the past year. This is on top of displacing millions of citizens.

South Sudan is one of Uganda’s major export markets, generating at least $249m annually, according to Bank of Uganda. Brian Gidudu, a constructor, sees this time as an opportunity to earn an extra living now that there are a few constructors yet a lot of buildings there need repair after they were destroyed in fighting.

“Succeeding in Juba involves timing,” says Gidudu.

“This is how we have been doing in the past and I’m hopeful there won’t be any fighting. This is the best time to make money in South Sudan because very few builders are will- ing to take the risk.”

Crown coaches have two buses going to Juba every day because the number of passengers from Uganda has increased.

The Crown Coach accountant, Sylvia Nalubuulwa, said they had so far found no life-threatening incidents because the police in Juba alert them of hotspots and help their drivers evade danger.

“We are charging between Shs 50,000 and Shs 60,000 for those going and those coming to Uganda

pay around 1,200 South Sudanese pounds (about Shs 60,000),” said Nalubuulwa.

UNCERTAIN

Other players are still weary of the situation in South Sudan. Baby coach and Friendship coach are reluctant to go back. Asiku Kwawa, a booking agent with Baby coach says their busses would not enter

South Sudan soon fighting might erupt again. He said they had resorted to transporting refugees from Adjumani to the newly es- tablished camp in Yumbe district. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda in the last couple of months.

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