The leadership of traders operating in South Sudan has asked government to impose travel restrictions on its citizens to the neighbouring South Sudan, reasoning that it is no longer safe given the ongoing killings.
The call follows recent three tragic incidents in which a number of Ugandans were shot dead and some injured.
The leadership, dubbed the Joint Action for Redemption of Ugandan Traders in South Sudan, yesterday in an interview with this publication, said they have been trying to reach Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde to address their fears in vain.
The association’s chairperson, Mr Rashid Manafa, said they were only able to meet the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, who also referred the issues to the line minister.
“We have been trying to meet the government since the incident happened last Tuesday but we have failed. The Speaker of Parliament instructed government to handle this issue amicably but shockingly, government has not done much to stop these tragic incidents from happening because even on Sunday, another attack was made on Ugandans,” Mr Manafa said.
He added: “We want to meet the government to tell us why South Sudanese hate Ugandans and also tell us the reason behind their killing because we do not want innocent Ugandans to be involved in their political issues.”
He urged government to instead construct a market at the boarder so that Ugandans can trade safely since majority of them go to South Sudan because they are unemployed.
Ms Kyambadde told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview that the aggrieved traders are free to go to her office and that even if they do not see her in person, they will be able to meet the commissioner of external trade.
She also said her ministry will communicate the measures government is putting in place in the aftermath of the incidents.
“I will communicating next week, this matter is too big and I cannot handle it alone .We need to probe the issue, so you should wait for my communication next week,” Ms Kyambadde said.
Ministry of foreign Affairs speak out
The acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affair, Mr Arthur Kafeero, said government is still in talks with the government of South Sudan to ensure safety of Ugandans and their goods.
On the issue of banning Ugandans from travelling to South Sudan, Mr Kafeero revealed that government last week issued a travel advisory, urging all Ugandans traders to exercise caution while trading in South Sudan as the talks continue.
Incidents last week
Tuesday, March 30: At least 10 people, four of them Ugandans, were killed in Ganji, on the Juba-Yei road in Lanya County, South Sudan. These were killed in an ambush by yet-to-be identified gunmen.
The traders association’s chairperson, Mr Rashid Manafa, said they received reports that more than 14 people were shot dead and a number of unidentified people ran into the bush.
Thursday, April 1: At least five people who were returning in three trucks were ambushed and burnt to death on Juba-Nimule road.
Sunday, April 4: Another ambush of about three trucks happened and more than eight traders were also killed between Ganji (Lanya County), 65kms to Juba and Kullipa, which is 58kms to Juba on Yei-Juba road in South Sudan.