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West Nile traders ask gov’t to guarantee their safety in DRC

Delegations at West Nile Investment Forum. Photo via @mukiza_robert

Nebbi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Local investors in West Nile have tasked the government to address the insecurity in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which they say is hampering trade in the region.

The investors made the appeal in Nebbi district on Tuesday, during the West Nile investment summit organized by Uganda Investment Authority-UIA.

They accuse the Congolese authorities of mistreating traders leading to arrests, loss of property, and extortion, especially at different checkpoints in the country.

Vincent Okaba, the proprietor of Roke Fuel Station Company that operates across West Nile, wonders why insecurity in the Eastern DRC province of Ituri, has not been curbed, yet many traders have lost their lives while transacting business.

The proprietor of KG Adubango Construction Ltd, George Adubango says that the insecurity in DRC is mainly instigated by locals without the leaders knowledge that needs urgent intervention.

Some of the common markets in DRC which attract investors from West Nile include Kisangani, Aru, Ariwara Duruba, and Malaba among others.

However, the State Minister for Defense and Veteran Affairs Huda Oleru has assured the investors of the government’s commitment to tackle insecurity in Eastern DRC. She said with the integration of DRC in the East African bloc, it would be easy for the two governments to address the ongoing insecurity in Ituri province jointly.

Robert Mukiza, the Uganda Investments Authority Director-General has challenged the domestic investors to take advantage of the emerging opportunities offered by the strategic location of West Nile.

According to Mukiza, government priority in the next two years is geared towards promoting domestic investors.

Over the past years, several Ugandan traders from the region have lost their lives as a result of insecurity in DRC. For instance, in July 2006, a Ugandan national was shot and killed by Congolese soldiers at Kampala market, Logiri sub-county, Arua district along the Uganda border.

According to Bank of Uganda trade statistics, Uganda earned $241 million in trade surplus from DRC in 2020, and $177 million in estimated informal trade exports, pushing the figure to $418 million in trade earnings.

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