At least 1,600 Ugandans involved in boda-boda business in South Sudan are jobless after the Juba government declared that such a trade should be a preserve of its citizens.
Following the order issued earlier in the week, South Sudan traffic police have since started cracking down on foreigners riding boda bodas, majority of whom are Ugandans.
The chairperson of South Sudan Boda boda Association, Mr Abraham Jok, told the Daily Monitor that there are about 20,000 registered boda bodas in South Sudan with about 1,600 Ugandans in the business. But, the chairperson of Uganda Traders Association in South Sudan, Mr Patrick Ntege Walusimbi, said the number could be higher since the trade was introduced by Ugandans.
Mr Walusimbi said out of 10 boda bodas in Juba, seven are owned by Ugandans. The move to stop foreigners from the business has caused a vacuum that will not only see the government lose revenue, but increase transport fares.
It is understood that the decision was informed by insecurity fears such as kidnaps, pick pocketing and accidents committed by cyclists.
Mr Walusimbi said unlike other countries, Ugandans are on their own in South Sudan. “We have not been told anything by the South Sudanese authority, but we are aware that they do not want our people to ride boda bodas,” he said. He said they had asked the government for commercial attaché to negotiate trade matters in vain. “The last time we had a commercial attaché was an official from ministry of Trade who spent one month in Juba,” Mr Walusimbi said.
The Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Amb James Mugume, and Permanent Secretary of Trade Julius Onen could not respond to our repeated calls.