Ugandan Traders operating in South Sudan yesterday (15/3/2014) met the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura in an effort to devise ways on how to recover their unclaimed dues from South Sudan government without resorting to non peaceful means.
The meeting was as a result of the traders’ threat to withdraw their services from South Sudan and demonstrate their anguish towards the S. Sudan government for nonpayment of debts to Ugandan traders who have been supplying the government with food, building materials, technical services among others.
The traders are demanding Shs 103 billion in compensation. South Sudan had promised to clear the debt but the six year negotiations have come to naught. Between 2008 and 2009, Ugandan traders, through their associations, Uganda-South Sudan Grains and Suppliers Association (USSTSAL) and Uganda Traders Association of South Sudan (UTASS) supplied $ 56 million (Shs 140b) worth of grain to South Sudan. However, only $ 14million (Shs 37b) was paid in 2010, leaving a balance of more than $ 41 million (Shs 103b).
The Chairman Joint Committee of Traders, Mr. Kaijuka Chris, said “timeline has been given for us to be paid but has not been honored, we really want to come out through you (Gen. Kayihura) with the intervention of the President; traders really want to be paid”.
The Chairman Publicity, Communication and Awareness Committee, Mr. Bahat Fred appreciated Gen. Kayihura and the President for all the steps they have taken to ensure that all the traders are paid.
“For us we have faith and hope that by Tuesday next week our traders will have been paid. We call upon the public to be very patient, keep calm, not to cause any harm to the Sudanese here. We also call upon the S. Sudan government to pay our people as soon as possible,” Mr. Bahat said.
Uganda Police Gen. Kayihura said, “I am in touch with my counterpart in South Sudan; I have told him about your intentions to demonstrate”.
Gen. Kayihura urged traders to stay calm as efforts are being made to ensure that their debts are settled so that the problem does not escalate as this would undermine Uganda’s relationship with S. Sudan.
Uganda Police IGP explained to the traders about the benefits of Uganda’s relationship with S. Sudan to Uganda’s security and economic benefits which need to be handled with a lot of sensitivity.
He thanked the traders’ representatives for the good leadership they have exhibited in the mean time.
Uganda Police IGP informed the traders that the matter is being given due attention here in Uganda and in S. Sudan regarding their notice to demonstrate against nonpayment.
Gen. Kayihura assured the traders that the President is in touch with his South Sudan counterpart Mr. Salva Kirr about the same.