Water dealers in Juba downed their tools on Wednesday in protest against what they described as an unreasonable imposed water prices by the authorities.
The water tanks are the main lifeline of water consumption for businesses and residents of the national capital, Juba.
According to some drivers, the Traders’ Union, through businessman Ayii Duang, has told them to revise their prices.
Currently, 100l drum of water is sold at 500 South Sudanese Pounds.
But the union wants the drivers to reduce it to 250 pounds for places close to the river such as Juba town, Malakia, Malakal, Atlabara, Khor Williang, Jebel, Mauna, Munuki and Tongpiny.
For furthest areas, the proposed price for a drum of water is 350 pounds for Mia Saba, New Site, Gudele, Referendum, Gurei and Jebel Dinka.
In exchange, the authorities promised to reduce the tax collected from water tanks by the riverside from 1,600 pounds to 1,300 pounds.
But the suppliers rejected the offer to reduce the prices.
They say the proposed-price for 100-liter drum is low when compared to their spending on fuel, spare parts and general service of the vehicle.
The water tanker drivers decided to suspend their operations after reaching a deadlock with the Business Union.
“They told us to reduce the prices of the water but they don’t look at the cost of the services that the vehicles need,” a water dealer told Eye Radio.
The traders are referring to prices of fuel and spare parts, which they say remain high.
“If I buy a litter of fuel at 250 pounds and then sell the water at 250 pounds, that is a lost,” another dealer stressed.
The Chairperson of the South Sudan Business Union, Ayii Duang Ayii, insists on implementing the new pricing.
“We have agreed with Nilepet that water tankers will buy a liter of diesel at 220 SSP so that they will no longer have excuse to increase water prices,” Duang stated.
He threatened to take drastic measures against water suppliers who do not comply with the new directives.
However, South Sudan is a free market where demand meets supply.
The government does not regulate the market prices, and it is unclear where Ayii Duang and the Traders’ Union derive their powers from.
The water dealers also operate under the Juba City Council where they pay taxes regularly.
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