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Truck drivers end sit down strike after 2 weeks, caused by unrest in South Sudan


Truck drivers end sit down strike after 2 weeks, caused by unrest in South Sudan

Truck drivers in the region have agreed to end their sit-down strike and return to work after 12 days of not transporting goods to the South Sudan capital, Juba. 

Over 6,000 truck drivers from the East African Region suspended travels to Juba and parked their cargo fleets at the Elegu border at the Ugandan side in protest of armed violence on foreign drivers along the Nimule-Juba highway.

This came after gunmen waylaid and shot dead three Kenyans and a Ugandan truck driver in different ambushes between July and August, while several others were injured and others remained unaccounted for.

The drivers in response suspended travels to Juba and demanded security, compensation for the colleagues who lost their lives, and Lorries burnt down by the gunmen before they could resume normal operations.

On Monday, the country was hit by fuel shortages and appeals were made by the government to the truck drivers to consider ending the strike and returning to work.

Drivers also demanded for the clearing of bushes 15-meters wide on either side of the highway and removing unnecessary roadblocks used by unscrupulous security personnel to extort money from them.

Uganda brokered four different meetings during the period of the strike to compel the truckers to call off the strike and resume delivery of goods to the conflict-prone country but failed to convince the drivers who demanded written commitment from the Juba administration.

On Monday, South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Monday wrote to the embassies of Uganda and Kenya committing to providing security for foreign truckers along the Juba-Nimule highway of death.

However, Mansook Mwija, a truck driver argues the letter was written in a diplomatic language that makes it hard for the truckers to hold the South Sudan authorities accountable if they attacked which still leaves them in dilemma.

According to Ivan Kakire, the Regional Manager for Uganda Revenue Authority, the letter is timely because tons of fresh commodities like matooke, and Irish potatoes are rotting.

The Chairperson of the Long-Distance Truck Drivers Associations Sudi Mwatela says he is not convinced by the letter because, in the past, they agreed with South Sudan authorities for long term remedies to their grievances but none has been implemented.

By this morning, cargo trucks delivering fresh commodities have been released from Elegu border, and they will be followed by fuel tank trucks.

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