By Dennis Ojwee
AMURU - The daily average revenue collection of about sh3.6m that Uganda used to realize through the Elegu border in Amuru district is now cut to about sh1.5m due to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
Before the fighting across the border, between 200 and 500 trucks plied the Gulu-Elegu-Nimule-Juba road, but ever since the conflict was sparked off, that flow has reduced to less than 20 trucks daily.
Over 1,000 people have been reported killed in the fighting.
The fighting started when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup in the world’s newest nation.
Despite Kiir earlier saying he would not agree to any power-sharing agreement with Machar, the two warring parties are set for direct ceasefire talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Many countries, including Uganda, Kenya and the US have pulled their nationals out of the oil-rich nation.
Hundreds of South Sudanese nationals have fled their country and have sought refuge in neighbouring Uganda, Sudan and other countries.
The head of customs at Elegu border, Paul Walukyesi explains that the before the security situation worsened in Juba, Uganda earned revenue from the trucks’ movements through roll tolls and other local exports.
“Elegu is our major exit immigration station to South Sudan. It handles majorly transit goods from Uganda and abroad. It also handles local exports, where at least over 200 trucks pass through the station on a daily basis,” he says.
Ugandan traders export foodstuffs and agricultural products like maize flour, sweet potatoes, cabbages and onions, and many more everyday through the Elegu border point.
The customs official said before the conflict erupted, about 50 vehicles or trucks were commuting daily to export fresh farm products in Juba.
But now the fighting has significantly affected that movement.
“A few Ugandan traders used to benefit from Supermatch cigarettes. The only unfortunate thing is that the cigarettes are smuggled into Uganda because they are in a small-scale,” said Walukyesi.
Meanwhile, the current situation at Elegu has made the border market very expensive to both the locals and travelers.