Truck drivers, traders decry poor link roads to DR Congo

Trucks parked on Jukia hill road in Nebbi as after a heavy down pour  in November 2023. Photo | Patrick Okaba

What you need to know:

  • They say most of the roads have remained in a bad state, hindering cross border trade .

Truck drivers and traders in the West Nile Sub-region have expressed frustration over the poor road network, which they say has affected cross-border trade between Uganda and its neighbours.

They say most of the roads that link Uganda to DR Congo and South Sudan from West Nile have remained in a bad state, hindering the progress of trade and commerce.

Mr Tabban Oyuka, a trader in Nebbi District, says he has witnessed his colleagues committing suicide on the roads after failing to reach designated business points due to the poor status of the roads because of fear of repaying loans.  

“It’s so hard for us to do successful business with DR Congo and South Sudan when we have problems with our road network, which is the stumbling block in transacting business,” Mr Oyuka says.

He adds that the poor roads have increased the transport cost, making their goods unaffordable to most of their clients.

Mr Henry Mukasa, a truck driver, says transporting goods and services to DR Congo via West Nile is very expensive and time-consuming, especially during rainy seasons when trucks get stuck in the muddy roads sometimes for weeks.

“The Nebbi–Goli road has proven to be one of the serious obstacles hindering the success of cross-border trade, which needs to be addressed urgently especially as we approach the rainy season in West Nile,” Mr Mukasa says.

Nebbi Woman Member of Parliament Agnes Acibu says the government has only made endless promises of tarmacking the 190km Nebbi-Goli–Paidha-Vurra road.

“The benefits of our taxpayers are good roads, good health services delivery, education, and security, but if any of the above is missing, the livelihoods of our communities are at stake,” Mr Acibu says.

But the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Zombo, Ms Grace Atim, instead says what kills business relationships in the cross-border trade are poor quality products, and non-compliance to pay taxes.

“We are one people now, both Congolese and Ugandans are free to transact businesses as long as its legal business, which is acceptable under the East African Community Business Act,” Mr Atim says.