South Sudan’s army has announced plans to deploy troops along the country’s trade lifeline following a surge in highway crimes.
The SSPDF will now station soldiers along the roads connecting Juba to Nimule, to Yei up to Kaya –to ensure safe passage for travelers and commercial goods.
This is to address the persistent insecurity along the trade corridors.
The move comes following the recent killing of truck drivers and other travelers along these roads.
At least 7 foreign nationals and 8 South Sudanese have been killed in separate attacks in a span of two weeks where some cargo trucks were also set ablaze by the unidentified attackers.
These crimes have interrupted the movement of goods and people along the Juba-Nimule highway and Juba-Yei road.
While visiting the site of the attacks Tuesday, the SSPDF Chief of Defense Forces, Johnson Juma Okot announced that the army will now take charge of highway patrols.
“We are here to ensure that the road is secure and we will be meeting as a security sector to see how we can enforce the movement of trucks from Juba to the East African countries and also from East African countries to Juba,” the CDF declared.
“The forces that will be deployed here will be defending themselves,” Gen. Okot added.
Hundreds of commercial trucks importing goods into South Sudan are currently stuck at Elegu border checkpoint on the Ugandan side.
An official said no trucks have been entering into Nimule for the last five days except for passenger vehicles. The truck drivers from Kenya and Uganda have refused to cross into South Sudan over the killing of their colleagues.
The Transporters’ Associations in the two countries have advised their members to stop sending cargo into South Sudan until such time security is guaranteed.
They informed drivers already en route to the country to arrange with their clients to collect goods at the Customs yard in Elegu border point.
The transporters’ association further demanded security assurance from South Sudan before proceeding with the delivery of goods to Juba and beyond.
But the South Sudan army chief says they will also deploy forces on Juba-Yei road.
“We had several attacks and ambushes, we are going to send forces that will be deployed there and the other forces will be taking care of greater Yei and Yei-Kaya road.”
The army CDF said the army will guarantee the security of cargo trucks and all travelers on the trade corridors.
“This highway does not only belong to South Sudan, it belongs to part the region and the world as a whole. We come here to deploy our forces from now onward we will be here to ensure that the road is secured.”
South Sudan, a landlocked country, depends on imported food and manufactured products for its population from the region.
An economist at the University of Juba said the impasse on the Nimule-Elegu border point will contribute to shortages of essential goods and a hike in commodity prices.
Professor Abraham Kuol Nyuon also encouraged the government of South Sudan to provide security escort for vehicles plying these trade corridors.
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