AMURU – To traders in Amuru, piles of rotting food stuck on their market shelves are a sour pain inflicted by the government’s recent cross border movement restrictions of Elegu border.
These restrictions at Elegu border in Atiak Sub County, which crosses into neighboring South Sudan lock traders out of the lucrative trade there.
The cross border restrictions came into effect on June 10 four days after President Museveni on June 6 ordered a 42-day suspension of inter-district movement among other measures to slow the march of Covid-19.
The traders under Elegu United Fresh Food Cooperative Society argue that their main customers come from Nimule (South Sudan) and at the moment are not allowed to cross into Uganda so they now have rotting food on their shelves.
The traders, mainly dealers in fresh fruits, vegetables, cassava, matooke and yams, say that since the closure of the border , they have lost a lot of money.
“We never expected that the movements at the border will be this restrictive. Whatever we had stocked got rotten. We have pleaded with the district officials but they have not yet responded to our cries,” Margret Ayot, the chairperson of Elegu United Fresh Food Cooperative Society told theCooperator in a recent interview.
According to her, 70% of what they sell is consumed by South Sudan.
Emmerson Kalinde, who is stationed at the Elegu border, said, “The bigger market is in South Sudan, but accessing that area at the moment is not possible. Even the Sudanese are not allowed to cross here.”
“Imagine on the day these restrictions were out in place, I had food worth Shs 700,000. I had to sell it at giveaway prices. I also gave away some food free of charge,” he said.
Interviewed, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Amuru, Osborn Ochieng Geoffrey, said traders have failed to adhere to the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that is why they cannot cross into South Sudan.
“They have failed to wear face masks and have hand washing facilities in place – that is why we cannot allow them to cross the border. They might throw us into very big trouble,” he said.
As we protect them, they should also protect themselves by adhering to the SOPs, he advised.
“Their customers on the other hand (South Sudan), have also failed to test for Covid-19 that is why the border will remain closed,” he said.
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