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Farmers pay for harvesting crops on disputed Uganda-South Sudan border

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | South Sudan officials continue to extort money from Ugandan farmers harvesting their crops from a contested land in lokung sub-county, Lamwo district bordering South Sudan.

This comes just a month after security personnel from the two countries held meetings to iron out the practices that is seen as a threat to relationships between the two countries.

Francis Obalim, the officer in- charge of Ngomoromo Police Post, says initially the farmers registered in the area and paid money to South Sudan security personnel to farm but notes that this harvest season, the same personnel are demanding money before granting them access to leave.

According to Obalim, each farmer is required to pay a minimum of 5,000 shillings per sack of sim sim or their crops are confiscated.

“One of the farmers reported to us that South Sudan security personnel confiscated a sack of sim sim from him because he failed to pay 100,000 shillings they demanded. We fear many farmers will fail to transport their crops back home,” he says.

He says they informed top security personnel in Torit state who promised to curb the vice but till date, it has not been addressed.

Obalim says they plan to visit their counterparts in South Sudan by next week to restore sanity.

Charles Okumu, the Ayaci County Commissioner couldn’t be reached for comments as his known phone number was off by press time.

Reports from security personnel indicated that a total of 17 million shillings had so far been collectd from the farmers by a network of officials from South Sudan and Uganda to allow them gain access to the fertile lands.

Nabinson Kidega, the Lamwo Resident District Commissioner says that the authorities have been able to led to refund of 5 million shillings extorted from the farmers.

Kidega says they are advocating for joint control of the disputed land at the moment since no official boundary has been declared by the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) established on Delimitation and Demarcation of Uganda-South Sudan international Borderline.

The South Sudan Police Spokesperson Daniel Justin Boula says he was busy when contacted for comments.

Parts of Ngomoromo village form the borderline with volatile Torit state in South Sudan.

Since 2013 South Sudan security personnel have been claiming ownership of portions of the land and occasionally raiding the area forcing hundreds of locals to abandon their farmlands and homes.



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