South Sudan has over the years embattled rival anti-government rebel groups that has greatly hampered trade and security in the country. Recent brutal attacks that led to the killing of 2catholic Nuns along the Nimule-Juba Highway and several cases of torture and ambush by different rebel groups have led to a retardation in the country’s trade.
Following the growing insurgencies of highway attacks Kenya truck drivers say they have halted cargo transport to neighboring South Sudan after two drivers were tortured and killed near Juba on Sunday evening. The killings of drivers have for long continued to be an issue that the South Sudanese government hasn’t addressed despite pledging to protect the country.
Recently, the truck drivers under their association and umbrella body the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) confirmed that two Kenyans and a Ugandan driver who escaped the ambush had not been traced by Monday morning. The drivers were not only brutally murdered but also, their trucks vandalized in the attack and badly damaged.
With the lawlessness and insecurity along Juba-Nimule highway at its peak, several drivers have been killed while others unaccounted for and their trucks either burnt or vandalized.
The various rebel groups have continuously been warned against the atrocities of ambushing, kidnapping and killing of truck drivers along the different roads in South Sudan. Most of this warnings have also in many occasions been ignored by the waring factions which is currently costing the government of South Sudan huge sums of money in compensation and maintaining security among the various routs.
The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) has however advised all transporters not to risk the lives of their drivers by continuing to offer transport services to South Sudan. KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo made this remark on Monday.
This has led to the association issuing a strong advice to its more than 5,000 members to dump goods at the Uganda-South Sudan border until the situation gets better with the government of South Sudan offering maximum protection to the drivers.
According to reports, five trucks were attacked by unknown people about 45 kilometers from Juba on Sunday morning. The attackers reportedly tortured the two Kenyans to death while drivers of three other trucks had to flee for their lives.
It’s sad to note that this is not the first-time truckers have been targeted in the troubled country. Incidents of attacks along the highway have been rampant and this is the second time KTA is suspending transport services this year because of insecurity with very little hope left in the drivers.
Kenyan truck drivers in April this year, stopped transporting goods to South Sudan due to growing insecurity along the Yei-Juba route where two Kenyans were killed and their trucks burnt. As if that’s not enough, three Ugandan drivers were also killed along the Juba-Kaya Highway in May.
An assurance from the South Sudanese government prompted the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) to resume cargo services and with this similar incident happening again, the trade industry in South Sudan hangs in balance.
Its should however ne noted that in October last year, the armed men demanded thousands of dollars as ransom following a kidnapping incident that involved two Uganda drivers and killing two others along Juba-Nimule Road.
After the unprecedented kidnappings, the Ugandan government warned foreign drivers from conducting cargo business with South Sudan but later lifted the warning when an agreement was reached after a huge accumulation of goods at the Elegu border as goods ran out of stock in Juba.
Despite efforts by the government to curb this huge emergency, more often the rebel groups continue to conduct the unfortunate incidents of attacking, kidnaping and demanding of huge sums of money in ransom.
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