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Truckers profiling colleagues killed in South Sudan for reparations

Truck burnt by South Sudan militia. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The leadership of the Long-Distance Heavy Truck Drivers Association in East Africa has started profiling associates killed or incapacitated by gunmen along the Nimule-Juba highway for possible reparations.

The compilation will include drivers and turn-men from within the East African bloc that includes Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi who were killed while en-route to South Sudan capital, Juba to deliver goods between 2012 to date.

Gunmen have been waylaying and indiscriminately shooting foreign drivers and torching their bodies inside the trucks. The wave of crime incited the truckers to strike for the fourth time, subsequently forcing the truckers to demand South Sudan government to compensate all lives and properties lost on its soil.

Stephen Muhwezi, the Chairman of Uganda Long-Distance and Heavy Truck Drivers’ Association said compensating colleagues who lost lives will be a good gesture by the government of South Sudan to show remorse towards lost lives and commit to ensuring the security of foreign drivers.

Sudi Mwatela, the Chairperson of the Kenya Long-Distance Truck Drivers’ Association says they have so far recorded up to 75 colleagues either killed, injured or disappeared without any trace in South Sudan for profiling. Mwatela said that once the list is developed and verified, it will be given to the different Embassies of the affected East African member states in South Sudan to push for compensation if the economic reintegration process is to be achieved.

A provisional list compiled by the truckers indicates that there were 11 Eritrean drivers, 12 Kenyans and seven Ugandans killed from April 2013 to date. Meanwhile, 17 other truckers were injured, assaulted or harassed and over 20 trucks burnt with goods inside them.

According to Wilson Owere, the National Chairman of Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union in Uganda, the security of foreign drivers delivering cargo to South Sudan is worrying. Owere visited Elegu to assess the plight of drivers and called for the intervention of the East African heads of state.

However, it is not yet clear how much compensation the truckers will demand from the government of South Sudan for the damages suffered, lives and properties lost during the period under review. South Sudan is a landlocked country that gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011, but it relies on its neighbours for goods and services.



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