Feature: Kenyan, Ugandan traders suffer amid insecurity in South Sudan

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NAIROBI, April 9 (Xinhua) — Kenyan trader, Peter Maina’s transport business has abruptly stopped due to insecurity along a major highway connecting northern Kenya to South Sudan.

Peter Maina is a trader in the northwestern Kenyan town of Kitale. Before the militia groups in South Sudan started to waylay and attack foreign drivers on Yei-Juba road, Maina had secured many orders to supply various goods to Juba.

Due to the overflow of orders, he was forced to secure a loan from a microfinance agency to finance the business.

Now Maina is a frustrated man after cargo transportation to South Sudan was suspended following escalating insecurity since the beginning of April.

“The business was going on smoothly until April 1 when attacks against Kenyan drivers intensified. I have been unable to deliver the goods to my clients in Juba after transporters withdrew services,” Maina told Xinhua during an interview on Thursday.

He said that he had already run into trouble with his creditor after failing to repay back the loan he had borrowed to support the expansion of his transport business. “I was expected to repay back the money this week but I am yet to deliver the consignment to the client in South Sudan and get paid,” said Maina.

He said the lending agency has warned of the possibility of auctioning his property to recover 450,000 shillings (4,190 U.S. dollars) loan that was advanced to him to support the expansion of his enterprise.

Jane Wanjiru, a female trader is also a victim of the insurgency in South Sudan.

The cereal trader supplies the commodities to her customers in Juba but the business has stopped amid rising insecurity. The mother of four has been doing the business for the past seven years.

It was from the proceeds that she has managed to cater to the needs of her two children who are now in high school. “I don’t know how I’m going to meet the school requirements for my children now that the business has been hurt by insecurity,” said Wanjiru.

Juma Naibei, a trader at Bokwo town located in eastern Uganda shares a similar predicament with his Kenyan counterpart.

The clothes dealer said insecurity along major highways connecting Uganda and South Sudan has disrupted his business. “I deliver clothes to Juba weekly but the business has hit the rock because of the transport crisis caused by insecurity,” said Naibei.

“I don’t know when normalcy will return in the troubled country to enable me to resume the business.” Now Naibei is exploring business opportunities at the Suam border town.

“I have visited many towns in Kenya to see if I can get a cloth business as I wait for security to be restored in South Sudan,” said Naibei.

Kenyan transporters have stopped cargo to South Sudan for the second week after the killing of two drivers and burning of trucks. The truck drivers were ambushed along the Juba-Nimule Highway last week. It is one of the arteries linking Uganda and South Sudan and is often used by Kenyan truckers.

The insecurity has since been condemned by the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Kenya Transporters Association, Long Distance Drivers and Conductors Association said they had suspended their services to South Sudan until security for its members was guaranteed.

Traders and consumers in the world’s youngest nation have also raised concern over rising prices of commodities following the disrupted cargo transportation to the country. Enditem

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