Ugandan Traders Using DRC Route to Access South Sudan Markets

2911 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Davin Angutia, a logistics agent at Arua Park in Kampala, says many traders, Ugandan and South Sudanese who used the Koboko-Oraba-Yei route to the capital Juba as well as major towns and states in western South Sudan are now using routes in northeastern DRC.

Several Ugandan traders operating in conflict-stricken South Sudan are now using northeastern DR Congo to access markets in the western parts of the country which are relatively peaceful.
 
Davin Angutia, a logistics agent at Arua Park in Kampala, says many traders, Ugandan and South Sudanese who used the Koboko-Oraba-Yei route to the capital Juba as well as major towns and states in western South Sudan are now using routes in northeastern DRC.
 
This follows heightened insecurity especially along Oraba-Yei-Juba road where rebel soldiers of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) are operating and hold swathes of territory.
 
Although the government forces still hold the town of Yei, the rebels have strong bases nearby and have made the highway highly insecure.
 
Simon Anguyo, a Ugandan trader who regularly uses the route, says Western Equatoria State is relatively peaceful compared to the states of Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria.
 
According to Anguyo, many traders are using the DRC routes via towns like Ariwara, Ombokolo, Duruba and Isiro to access South Sudan major towns like Yambio and Maridi in Western Equatoria State and Wau further north.
 
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The DRC route is not only long and rough, but is also not entirely safe as rebel soldiers of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) as well as other Congolese insurgents operate not very far away.
 
Trade between Uganda and South Sudan is being significantly affected after South Sudan plunged into conflict pitting the government of President Salva Kiir against rebels led by his former vice president Dr. Riek Machar.

The World Bank, in its 8th edition of Uganda Economic Update released in early February, reported that trade between Uganda and South Sudan stood at 33 million dollars in the first quarter of 2016/17.

Before the conflict started in December 2013, South Sudan had become Uganda's biggest trading partner with annual figures of nearly 400 million dollars per year, surpassing Kenya.

The conflict is generating lots of refugees, nearly one million of whom have sought sanctuary in northern Uganda. Humanitarian agencies estimate that at least 4,000 South Sudanese escape to Uganda daily.
 
Meanwhile, Angutia says trade on the Kampala-Juba route has also reduced significantly with much fewer traders braving it. He says although a few buses still travel to Juba, the numbers have reduced.
 
According to Angutia, while in the past he could load three cargo trucks in a day, today sometimes it takes him over a week to load just one truck.
 
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Meanwhile the South Sudan Pound (SSD) has depreciated further against the Shilling, trading at 20/30 on the buy and supply sides. What it means is that one SSD which used to fetch 80,000 shillings now fetches just 20 shillings.
 
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About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.


In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.


I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."