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Truckers strike over South Sudan armed attacks

Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Truck drivers destined for South Sudan have parked their trucks at Elegu border town in Amuru district to protest armed attacks on their colleagues. This comes a few days after South Sudanese authorities handed over the bodies of four Ugandan drivers who were shot dead in Ganji Lanya County along the Yei-Juba road in South Sudan over the week.

Several other drivers are said to have been shot on Wednesday this week. As a result, truck drivers have decided to stage a strike at Elegu border town protesting the continued attacks. Currently, more than 1,500 trucks have parked at the BLD parking lot while others are parked along the main road and streets within Elegu town council.

Suleiman Issa Tumwine who lost his brother Hussein Katongole in the first attack says that the deceased was beaten and shot before his body was torched by unknown people.

Tumwine says that before his brother was killed, the assailants called his family members demanding a ransom of US$ 10,000, which they couldn’t raise quickly. Derrick Senyonga, a Ugandan truck driver says that they have decided to park their trucks to compel the governments of both countries to stop the attacks.

Zedi Male, the Vice-chairperson of the Truck Driver’s Association insists that the attacks are not being perpetrated by rebels as the South Sudanese authorities are claiming but they are being executed by government forces. Male says that the latest attack occurred near a military barracks.

He explains that there are over 30 new roadblocks between Nimule and Juba where each driver is tasked to pay an extra US$ 100 US approximately Uganda Shillings 360,000. He says that they are now considering offloading the goods in Elegu, where they should be picked by South Sudanese drivers.

Geoffrey Oceng Osborn, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner says he has alerted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is already handling the matter. Oceng says that plans are underway to register all truck drivers who ply the route so as to provide them joint security to their destination.

Oceng has also called for the intervention of the East African Community to address the insecurity which is threatening business. He says they will soon announce substantive feedback on the way forward and asked the drivers to stay calm.

Recently, parliament demanded a report on the dead Ugandans following the attacks in South Sudan.

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