KOBOKO. Uganda and South Sudan leaders have agreed to work together to stop crime and insecurity at their common border points.
The two countries have been faced with problems of illegal logging, smuggling of goods, cattle rustling and accusations that Uganda is harbouring South Sudanese rebels that use Ugandan territory as a springboard to destabilise their country.
Speaking during a joint border meeting in Koboko Town on Wednesday, Yei River State governor Emmanuel Anthony Adil asked security agencies of the two countries to collaborate and ensure peace and security on their common border.
“There must be coordination by the security agencies and other leaders from both countries in order to guarantee peace and promote pan-Africanism between Uganda, DR Congo, and South Sudan,” he said.
Uganda was represented by the Moyo District Council chairperson, Mr Williams Anyama, and Koboko Resident District Commissioner Hajj Isaac Kawooya.
South Sudan has remained unstable since declaration of its independence from Khartoum following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
Since the agreement, two internal wars have been fought, forcing out more than one million South Sudanese to seek refuge in Uganda.
Also, the border point at Oraba in Koboko District has remained inactive for the last two years now because of the insecurity, with the area being controlled by the opposition forces loyal to the former South Sudan vice president, Dr Riek Machar.
The Yei governor said the destruction and sale of individual properties such as building materials, vehicles, scraps, cattle, guns, log exportation along the common borders is creating and tearing apart the former cordial relationship enjoyed by the two countries.
Col Jacob Ali Wani, the Yei River State Director of Military Intelligence, said some criminals in South Sudan have taken advantage of the instability to rob people, kill, destroy and sneak guns into Uganda, especially into the refugee camps.
“The two countries can’t be divided, we shall continue to co-exist and as leaders we need to zealously protect the relationship and peace,” he said.
Hajj Kawooya cited uncontrolled movement of refugees that has caused population pressure, rampant livestock theft by the armed SPLA-IO soldiers, illegal trading in timber, which has affected Uganda socially, politically and economically.
Mr Anyama said the community in Moyo have been victims of the war and that they have lost more than 20,000 head of cattle to armed men.
“The cattle owners are still in pain and the raid has affected their economic livelihood because many of them depended on animals as their source of income. We have tried to intervene to recover the animals but this has failed. Even compensation has not been effected to date,” he said.