Truck drivers have resumed operations on South Sudan route after getting an assurance from Juba on the deployment of military and police on the highway to provide.
So far Kenyan and Uganda truck drivers have started plying the route, coming as a relief to truck owners as well as the residents of the landlocked South Sudan who rely on most of their merchandise from other East African countries. The truckers had suspended operations to Juba a fortnight ago following cases of insecurity.
On September 6, South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs office wrote to both Uganda and Kenya embassies in Juba, saying that the government had made a commitment for the security and safety of all truck drivers and their merchandise.
In the letter, Juba said it was committed to guaranteeing the security and safety of truck drivers on the troubled Juba-Nimule road.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan presents its compliments to the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in Juba and has the honour to inform the latter that the government of the Republic of South Sudan is committed to providing the security and safety to truck drivers on Juba-Nimule road,” reads the letter.
Juba said the escort will be provided by the South Sudan People's Defence Force and South Sudan National Police Service pointing out that the obstacles that cause delay on the highway to Juba will be removed.
In the letter, Juba committed that the move is not just a one-off gesture but a long-term investment to ensure smooth flow of business among neighbouring states.
"The government is committed to sustaining these safety measures and advise all the road users to adhere to government escort directives," the letter said.
Some of Kenya’s trucks had resumed operations on the route even before Juba communicated on security measures on the account of a lucrative transport business on the South Sudan route.
Over the years, this route has witnessed heightened competition between Kenya’s truckers and their Ugandan counterparts.
A fortnight ago, truckers parked their vehicles at the Elegu customs yard at the Uganda -South Sudan border in protest after 10 drivers were killed and eight trucks set on fire by gunmen in South Sudan.
The new development comes at a time when the East African Business Council is urging for the formation of a regional army to provide security and protection to truck drivers at the volatile border points.
The recently launched port of Lamu continues to record good business with transshipment cargo forming the bulk of the freight handled at the facility. Last week, the port received the largest consignment of 365 containers of transshipment cargo, the biggest of the six ships to have been shipped to the Port since its operationalisation in May.
Kenya and Ethiopia have ratified a procedure manual that will guide the two countries in the implementation of the Moyale One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) that was recently commissioned, paving the way for its full operationalisation.
The new measure by South Sudan implies that all goods to this landlocked nation from either the port of Mombasa or Dar es Salaam through the border points of Kenya and Uganda will have to be issued with ECTN at a cost of up to $110 depending on the size of the cargo.