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JUBA - 8 Apr 2021

Juba residents decry high commodity prices

Traders and consumers in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, are urging the government to provide security to truck drivers along the Juba-Nimule highway to mitigate the soaring commodity prices in the market.

Early this week, hundreds of trucks delivering essential commodities to Juba parked at the Elegu border post on the Ugandan side as drivers demanded assurances from the Ugandan government over safety concerns in South Sudan.

Several traders told Radio Tamazuj that prices of basic commodities in Juba have risen due to insecurity along highways which has scared drivers from traveling to Juba.

Nabukenya Sharifa, a Ugandan plying her trade in Juba’s Konyokonyo market, said, “We last stocked food before the Easter holidays and the vehicles which bring food have been stopped. People are killing each other, people are dying every day because of insecurity. What we are requesting on behalf of Freedom Square (Konyokonyo market) traders is that they allow the trucks which have been stopped to come.”

A businessman who is also the chairperson of Motoyo market in Nimule town, Peter Aring, says South Sudan could run out of essential items if Ugandan and Kenyan truck drivers don’t call off the protest over safety concerns, adding that the average prices of goods in Motoyo market have doubled since last week.

“A lot of them (truck drivers) are protesting and have refused to drive into South Sudan. They have parked that side of Elegu in Uganda. They have been complaining that their brothers are being killed on the highway and they cannot come because they fear that they might also be killed,” Aring said.“The government must do something. Normally we used to receive a lot of goods from Uganda and if they stop coming then it means we are going to have a shortage of all these things. For a week now everything has changed and prices of goods have increased.”

A consumer who buys essential food items in the Konyokonyo market, Kiden Mary, says insecurity has affected the people of South Sudan and has made life difficult for many families, especially those government employees whose salaries are delayed.

“All this is due to insecurity. Traders are being killed along the road that is why prices are very high. And us who are government employees cannot afford the high prices because our salaries are little and delayed for up to four or five months. I call on the government to speed up the implementation of the peace agreement so that our people can live in peace,” Kiden said.

However, the chairperson of the Central Equatorial Chamber of Commerce, Robert Pitia, called on the government to take the responsibility of protecting traders along roads and address the insecurity in the country.

He said the country still depends on the neighboring countries, adding that there will be shortages and prices will inevitably increase if the issue is not resolved. 

“We need the government to do something so that the roads are okay and the goods are available in the market. The impact is very big,” Pitia said. “You know after one or two weeks, the prices in the markets go up and it will affect us directly. The demand will be high and the commodities are not enough, automatically the prices will go up.”

Several attacks and ambushes along highways in different parts of the country have been reported over the past three months