Truck drivers’ strike at Elegu border post on the Uganda-South Sudan border has entered the second week, interrupting the flow of goods to South Sudan and raising fears the Juba may soon run short of supplies.
The truck drivers are protesting against frequent attacks on the Juba-Yei road, as well as the Juba-Nimule- road leading to Uganda.
The strike, which started on August 23, has continued even as authorities said Uganda and South Sudan plan to provide joint security escorts for cargo trucks from Nimule-Juba and from Juba-Nimule.
Truck drivers from Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundian have demanded security.
“The drivers want assurance from East African Community (EAC) Secretariat on improving security along the Nimule-Juba highway,” said Byron Kinene, the chairman of Regional Lorry Drivers and Transporters Association.
He said they have sought assistance from the East African Community Business Council (EABC), a private sector lobby, to engage stakeholders for better security for transporters.
Mr Kinene said that during meetings South Sudan officials always promise to deploy security agents to guard transporters but they do not implement what they agree on with regional drivers.
“This leaves truckers vulnerable to attacks from armed militias,” he said Kinene, arguing that the highway connecting Juba to the rest of East Africa has been plagued by insecurity since 2017.
The attacks have alarmed the EABC, which is now pushing South Sudan to ensure security along the transport route.
John Bosco Rusagara, the EABC Infrastructure, Transport and Resource Mobilisation director, said the attacks “distort business and also causes an alarming and unwarranted disharmony within the existing trade customs, usage and protocol.”
Osborn Oceng, Amuru District Resident District Commissioner, last Friday said cargo supply to Juba has been disrupted with 1,200 trucks parked at Elegu border post and on the highway in Uganda.
He said the truckers were demanding military escorts to Juba and back to Elegu.
Last week, an association for Kenyan truck drivers suspended transport of cargo to Juba following attacks in which some members were killed and trucks looted. In March, the killing of eight Ugandan drivers sparked protests at Elegu paralysing flow of goods and travel to Juba.