Truckers resume traffic along Juba-Nimule highway
Hundreds of truckers today resumed travel along the Juba-Nimule route following a three-week-long strike.
The drivers of the heavy goods trucks stopped at the Uganda-South Sudan border to protest insecurity, the death of their colleagues and other road users, extortion by armed forces, and numerous unlawful taxations among other ills.
The resumption of haulage occurred following a stakeholder conference between the government of South Sudan, Uganda, and representatives of merchants from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia yesterday in Nimule town.
Major Juma George, the director of traffic police in Nimule Town Council told Radio Tamazuj earlier today, “They began this (Tuesday) morning. The actual movement, particularly gasoline trucks and other items has begun today and the commercial vehicles will follow. The road is open officially. They were assured that security along the route is excellent, no more issues. Nobody will question someone along the way, that is why they started.”
The deputy spokesman of the South Sudan National Police Service, Brigadier General James Dak, acknowledged the restart of the heavy goods trucks and stated an agreement was made by the parties to recompense people who lost lives and assets at a high political level.
“Yeah, the trucks are already traveling and we are going to receive them in Nesitu at 2 pm. The president of Uganda issued instructions that they (truckers) should cease their strike,” Brig. Dak stated. “In respect to their requests, it would be done at the top level via foreign affairs ambassadors of the three nations of Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. They also included the embassies of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”
He added: “For security on the trip, we decided that there would be an escort from Nimule to Juba. They also decided that there would be just one point of revenue collection done at the one-stop facility in Nimule. There will be no further tax collection (points) along the route till they reach juba.”
When questioned about the durability of the military convoy escort along the route, Brog. Dak replied it relies on the cooperation of the road users, especially the people living along the roadway.
“The (escort) sustainability relies on collaboration. We need the cooperation of all road users therefore we are making lobbying via the community that they should assist us. Although we are obliged under the transitional constitution of South Sudan 2011, we still need the assistance of the community,” Brig. Dak stated. “They must help the organized troops because these criminals are residing among them and they know them. So they must maintain stay awake and provide us surveillance intelligence information so that we can rush.”
He also called to the administration to enhance the welfare of the military troops and pay their wages on time to prevent them turning into thieves.
“We are also urging our administration to encourage the troops so they do not turn out to be the thieves by paying them salary on time and by motivating them and keeping them disciplined all the time,” he added.
Sansa Moses, the chairman of the Ugandan community in Eastern Equatoria State, Torit town, acknowledged the restart of the trucks but warned the South Sudan government about the poor execution of the agreed problems.
“The deal is excellent if they put it in process, it will work. It is better than what they agreed is put into effect. It is all about security along the route. The strike has impacted business in general both on the side of Uganda and South Sudan, including even Kenya and other bordering countries,” Sansa added.