Kenyan truck drivers have suspended transporting cargo to South Sudan after two drivers were killed just 45 kilometres from Juba on Sunday evening.
Five trucks were attacked by unknown people at about 5.30pm and two Kenyans were killed while drivers of three other trucks had to flee for their lives.
The group said the continual attacks on their drivers and vandalism of their trucks is taking a toll as many lives have been lost and members have also lost their vehicles and goods.
Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) Chief Executive Officer Dennis Ombok said two Kenyans and a Ugandan driver had not been traced by Monday morning. But their trucks had been vandalised, he added.
On Monday, KTA chairperson Newton Wang’oo issued a statement advising their more than 5,000 members to stop ferrying cargo to South Sudan as a result of insecurity.
“Following increased lawlessness and insecurity along Nimule-Juba highway that has seen several drivers killed and trucks either burnt or vandalised, we wish to advise all transporters not to risk the lives of their drivers and their trucks by continuing to offer transport services to South Sudan as the country remains highly volatile,” the statement says.
Mr Wang’oo urged those already en route to deliver the goods to the customs yard at Elegu border and asked the South Sudanese government to immediately take measures to protect drivers already in that country.
He also urged Juba to compensate for the lives and properties lost in the recent attacks.
A month ago, KTA had raised concern after a Kenyan driver was killed by armed men while heading to Juba.
Cases of attacks along the highway have been rampant and this is the second time KTA is suspending services this year as a result of insecurity.
Mombasa Port has remained the main port used by South Sudan. Kenya Ports Authority data indicates it is only second to Uganda in the volume of its cargo imported through the port.
In October last year, armed men demanded thousands of dollars as ransom after kidnapping two Uganda drivers and killed two others along Juba-Nimule Road. In May, three Uganda drivers were killed along Juba-Kaya Highway.
In April, truck drivers stopped ferrying goods to South Sudan due to increasing crime along Yei-Juba route where two Kenyans were killed and their trucks torched.
KTA resumed carrying cargo after the Kenyan and South Sudan governments assured them of their security.
The Uganda Embassy warned foreign drivers entering the South Sudan. However, after numerous negotiations among Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan authorities, they agreed the drivers would be escorted by South Sudanese soldiers to ensure their security.
The agreement was reached a huge accumulation of goods at the Elegu border, while goods were running out of stock in Juba.
Last week, a road ambush attack on a passenger vehicle along Juba-Nimule highway left two Catholic reverends and three other travellers dead.