Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 3,000 cargo trucks have been parked in Elegu township, Amuru district following travel suspension by truck drivers protesting ambushes along Nimule-Juba highway in South Sudan.
The truckers’ strike started on 23 August 2021, in response to the resurgence of brutal killings of foreign drivers delivering goods to South Sudan. Four drivers have been shot dead and dozens injured between July and August while others remain unaccounted for.
All the parking spaces are full while hundreds of cargo trucks are parked along the highway for several kilometres causing a bee-hive of activities in major trading centres such as Biabia, Atiak and Pabbo townships.
Walter Ondele, a truck driver from Kenya says that they will not call off their protest until member states of the East African Community intervene and address their plight to guarantee safety and security.
Ondele, who also doubles as a member of the Long Distance Truck Drivers Association argues that an April meeting resolution between the drivers, Uganda and South Sudan authorities to provide them enough security has not been implemented.
Sudi Mwatela, the Chairperson of the East African Truck Drivers Association says despite their engagement with South Sudan authorities to comply with their terms and conditions, no position has yet been reached.
Mwatela emphasized that the drivers will not risk delivering any cargo goods to Juba until their plights are addressed. He added that the bodies of the four truck drivers who include one Ugandan and three Kenyans were been buried in South Sudan on Monday.
Amuru Resident District Commissioner, Geoffrey Oceng Osborn says Uganda may not do much to avert the volatile security situation in South Sudan other than mediating between the aggrieved drivers and South Sudan, a sovereign state.
Otto David Remson, the Commissioner of Magwi County in Central Equatoria, South Sudan regretted the ongoing armed violence against foreign truck drivers. He revealed that South Sudan government is devising all means possible to restore sanity and flash out the enemies.
This year alone, at least 20 foreign truckers have been killed in the conflict-prone South Sudan, a landlocked country that depends on its neighbors for the importation of essential goods and services.
Continued armed attacks along the Nimule-Juba highway is increasingly becoming a threat to the bilateral relations between South Sudan and other East African bloc member states such as Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.