The Arusha-based East African Community Secretariat has been asked to outfit a regional security squad to escort cargo trucks that venture into the troubled South Sudan.
Nearly 1060 large cargo trucks from other East African countries en-route to Juba are stuck midway.
The East African Business Council, advises the EAC Secretariat to convene the regional Sectoral Council on Interstate Security in order to consider deployment of a regional joint army patrol for protecting truck drivers amid the cross-border trade impasse.
Also based in Arusha, the Regional Business Council’s Executive Director, John Bosco Kalisa, condemns the South-Sudan’s robbing, harassment and killing of truck drivers from other East African states, Ugandans being more susceptible.
“A joint regional army patrol is a quick solution to guarantee peace and security for truck drivers, business people and their properties. This will ease and facilitate transportation of essential goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kalisa.
Last April, the East African Business Council commended the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Government of Uganda for escorting truck drivers.
Now the EABC urges the Ministries in charge of Interstate Security to adopt a regional monitoring mechanism to monitor progress and emerging issues affecting trade and security in the region.
“Insecurity increases the cost and time of transporting goods, risks people’s lives, obstructs cross-border trade and negatively impacts the competitiveness of the EAC bloc,” maintains the Council statement.
Due to cases of insecurity in the Republic of South Sudan especially along the Nimule – Elegu border route to Juba currently, over 1056 trucks are stranded at the Elegu border risking the spread of COVID-19 to border communities.
A stranded truck incurs losses of more than US $1,000 daily. The release costs for truck drivers who have fallen victim to the insecurity assaults range between US $10,000 to US $20,000.
Some truckers even get killed.On average, South Sudan exports goods worth US $6.8 million and imports US $225.9 million commodities from the Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and other EAC States.