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Traders want government to suspend livestock markets in Karamoja region

Cattle traders stranded after their trucks were intercepted at Nadunget security checkpoint where they recovered six stolen cows. URN_Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Traders dealing in livestock are demanding the government to suspend all the cattle markets in Karamoja region until they get permanent solutions to end the cattle raids in the Karamoja sub region.

The call follows the recovery of six stolen cows from the four trucks which were intercepted in Nadunget security checkpoint as they were in transit outside the region. The cows were bought on Friday from Karita livestock market in Amudat district

The traders have suggested that the government considers suspending all the cattle markets in the region instead of impounding cows which have already been purchased, causing them to incur losses.

According to the traders, they are incurring a number of challenges ranging from distant designated routes, bribery at the security checkpoints, impounding of animals suspected to have been stolen among others.

Moses Muteesa, the chairperson Wankulukuku livestock cooperative society in Kampala told URN that the government should suspend livestock markets if they want to deal with the problem of commercialized cattle raids.

Muteesa noted that the commercial cattle raids seems to be changing to a new direction where cattle owners connive with security forces to claim for cows which have already been sold out to the dealers.

He said it has come to their notice that the cows are not being verified from the markets but they only want the traders to first buy then later the owners claim to the security and the cows are intercepted from checkpoints before taking back.

Muteesa said such a practice is fueling the insecurity and so far he has lost two cows worth three million shilling after security suspecting animals to have been stolen.

Edmond Mugwaya, a cattle trader from Butaleja district said that there is security deployment in the markets but they are not doing enough to verify the cows paraded for sale instead they want them to purchase then intercept.

Mugwaya said that he has lost many animals and it seems to be a deal between the security forces and the cattle rustlers to make double profits from traders.

He appealed to the people complaining that they lost cows to cooperate with security in the market to verify every animal brought for sale before the transactions so that they can arrest the suspect on the ground.

Mugwaya believes that cattle theft will never stop because the perpetrators are left to walk free with money after selling and the burden is shifted to the buyers.

He reiterated that closing the markets would help to address cattle theft because the raiders would have lost business for their stolen livestock.

Ibrahim Garuga, another cattle dealer from Bugiri district noted that despite having all the required documents for trade, they also pay the market dues but security continues to frustrate their business.

Garuga wondered why security forces cannot identify the stolen cows from the market where it would be easier to interrogate the owner and apprehend if suspected to be a thief.

He also noted that since the long routes were designated, they now spend a lot of money on transportation. Garuga said before the designated roads, they used to pay 60,000 shillings to transport animals from Karamoja to Kampala but currently because of the long routes the prices have jumped to 150,000 per cow.

Emmanuel Longes Lorika, the LC3 chairperson for Lorengedwat Sub County in Nabilatuk district accused some of the cattle traders for conniving with thieves to load animals from the bush.

Lorika opposed the idea to suspend the livestock market saying that people need to sell their animals so that they can buy food for their families.

He noted that it is better for the traders outside the region to give a break to cattle business until the situation normalizes.

Webstone Mugabi, the Commander Animal Checkpoint said that they have recovered six cows from the four trucks which were intercepted from Nadunget security checkpoint following the concerns that about 300 cows were raided in Nakapiripirit district.

Mugabi said the animals recovered have no proper documentation and they have been kept at Nadunget holding ground waiting for the owners to go and verify.

Mugabi noted that there are over 1000 head of cattle taken to every market for sale and security does not have enough manpower to verify the animals before they are sold. He encouraged the cattle traders to use smart phones for taking photos during their transactions for easy tracking incase of any claims.

Mugabi also revealed that security do not have a right to suspend the livestock markets because it greatly contributes to the revenue in the region.

Earlier last week, the livestock traders operating along the Moroto – Soroti road raised concerns about alleged extortion by security forces stationed at checkpoints along the designated route. They also accuse the village chairpersons for issuing documents to cattle sellers in the exchange for money.

However the security forces stepped up operations which led to the arrest of three LC1 chairpersons for illegally issuing letters to the cattle dealers at Kanawat cattle market in Kotido district.

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URN

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