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Businesses Hit Hard At Uganda-South Sudan Border over Covid-19 Restrictions

Evelyn Acaa, another businesswoman at the border point says she hardly makes more than shillings 50,000 daily from selling sodas and confectioneries to South Sudanese across the border point ever since the covid-19 restrictions were initiated.
Abandoned Apiriti cross border market at Uganda-South Sudan border point in Lamwo District.

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The covid-19 lockdown imposed by the government on cross border trade at Apiriti border post in Madi-Opei sub-county, Lamwo District has affected traders.

Apiriti border point is a popular market destination serving both Uganda and South Sudan traders, attracting hundreds during its monthly market days.

Jennifer Anek, a trader in Apiriti Border Market says that Apiriti border market has become a shadow of its former self. Anek says unlike in the past when the border point is occasionally bustling in trade, the area has now been deserted leaving her little opportunity to make money for her family.

She notes that ever since the covid-19 pandemic, many traders lost out their capital in the business and were forced to abandon trade at the border point in search of better business opportunities elsewhere.

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Anek notes that insecurity on the South Sudan side and weak South Sudan currency have dealt a big blow to the business development at the border.

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She says a cross border market built by the Lamwo District local government in 2015 to host traders have also since been abandoned by traders and left to rot away.

Evelyn Acaa, another businesswoman at the border point says she hardly makes more than 50,000 Shillings daily from selling sodas and confectioneries to South Sudanese across the border point ever since the covid-19 restrictions were initiated.

She says the ground has become hostile but their plea to the district authorities and the customs officials to offer them a conducive business grounds haven’t been appreciated.

Unlike other traders who have deserted the border point, a few traders have stuck around to take a risk on the lucrative sale of illicit crude Waragi.

One of the businessmen who declined to be named for the sensitivity of matter says he has no other alternative than to deal in the sale of crude Waragi across the Uganda border in South Sudan. He says the deal is clandestine and has paid off well since it’s marketable in neighbouring South Sudan.

John Komakech Ogwok, Lamwo LCV Chairperson acknowledges the effects of the covid-19 that has affected businesses prompting traders to abandon Apiriti border.

Ogwok notes that the district has now initiated a new idea on revitalizing trade in the area by sinking in 1.5 Billion Shillings construct an international animal market for Uganda and South Sudan traders.

“As local government, we are prepared to have an animal market around the abandoned market, we have good the road that connects to South Sudan, we are planning to invest about close to shillings 2 billion to have an international market at the border point to help boost trade and attract the people between the two countries,” Ogwok says. 

He says they also intend to construct a health center and extend piped water facility at the border to bolster the confidence of the traders while away from the urban centers.

At Ngomoromo border point, in Lokung sub-county, a 52 million shillings border market constructed in 2015 by the district has also been abandoned by traders due to the long-standing boundary tension between Uganda and South Sudan.

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