Ugandan traders return to war-ravaged S. Sudan

Traders offload tomotoes from a truck. Uganda traders mainly sell foodstuff in towns like Juba. Photo by Andrew Bagala

Juba- Ugandan traders have started returning to South Sudan a year after they were evacuated by Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). This followed fighting between forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar.
Most Ugandan traders are now residing in Rajaf County in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, Gondokoro County and Aruu County.

Some of the traders who talked to Daily Monitor said they returned to a risky country because they couldn’t cope with the economic condition in Uganda.
The chairperson of the Ugandan community in South Sudan, Mr Bruhan Tibo Obiga, said Ugandan traders are returning because business [in South Sudan] is starting to pick up, especially in the capital.
“What brings us here is business. Many people left after last year’s incidents, but some of them remained.

Ugandan traders are slowly returning,” Mr Obiga said.
Violence broke out in South Sudan after the fall out between the two leaders. More than one million people have since been forced into refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
At the peak of the violence, Uganda evacuated more than 50,000 Ugandan traders from South Sudan.

An estimated 20,000 Ugandans are already back in Juba and other areas in South Sudan.

Involved in agriculture
Mr Iddi Mutebi, the chairperson of Famms Commercial Market, said some Ugandans are now growing crops in Gondokoro County, near River Nile and Aruu County in South Sudan.
“Ugandans are growing tomatoes and watermelon in these areas. They get water from the River Nile and irrigate the crops. They are now supplying the market with agricultural products,” Mr Mutebi said.

“The cost of transporting agricultural products from Uganda to South Sudan is too high in terms of security, fuel prices and taxes. It, therefore, makes economic sense if a person grows the same crops and cut on such costs as transport and taxes,” he said.
The South Sudanese government has also promised to give land to Ugandans who want to deal in agriculture.

Mr Moses Sakira, the police attaché at Uganda’s embassy in South Sudan, said they are currently sorting out problems Ugandans are encountering while transporting goods on Kampala-Elegu road on Ugandan side and Nimule-Juba Road on South Sudan side.
Traders had complained about corruption, double taxation and insecurity along Nimule-Juba road.
He urged traders to work with the security agencies so as to remain peaceful in South Sudan.