KAMPALA. The government of South Sudan is yet to clear arrears with Ugandan traders amounting to Shs123b and this continues to anger Ugandan traders.
The debt goes as far back as two years and the traders see no end in sight.
Mr Shem Bageine, the State Minister for East African Affairs, told Daily Monitor in an interview that for South Sudan to be considered for entry into the East African Community (EAC), it should first clear the debts.
“It is important that South Sudan restores good governance and settles debts with Ugandan traders if the negotiations for entry are to get back on track,” he said.
Ever since the war broke out in South Sudan in 2013, Ugandan traders have made several demands to have their money recovered but this has yielded nothing.
They have, in the past, threatened to go on strike and lobby the government of Uganda to help secure the payments. This is yet to happen.
“They have shown us willingness to resolve the issue,” Mr Bageine added. “We will be observing the situation for the next three years before we make a decision to admit South Sudan,” he said.
Mr Bageine also defended the decision by Uganda to sign a deal with Tanzania on the pipeline route to the Port of Tanga. He insisted that since Tanzania is part of the EAC, the option to explore a pipeline route in that country was “in the spirit of the region.”
“The Tanzania pipeline route is part of the Central Corridor infrastructure projects that the region is pursuing. If Uganda does its research and the route through Tanzania is the least cost possible, then it is an option they can use,” Mr Bageine added.