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Floods displace thousands of business persons at Elegu Town Council

Thousands of business persons in Elegu Town Council in Amuru district are stranded after floods submerged their businesses on Saturday.

The flooding occurred after River Unyama, one of the tributaries of the Nile River, burst its banks, resulting in floods which washed away and destroyed traders’ goods worth millions of shillings in the process.

Margaret Auma, the Chairperson of Elegu Women’s Cross border Traders and Credit Cooperative Society, said by Sunday morning, the place was still flooded, and business people could not travel to buy or sell produce within or outside the town council.

According to Auma, about 16,000 people doing business in the area have been affected.

“The cooperative is greatly affected because we don’t have a store to keep our goods well. We have constantly lost our goods to floods, or had their quality greatly reduced by too much moisture content because the place is always wet,” Auma said.

Auma said to provide temporary relief when flooding occurs, the traders lay stones and place their goods over them, which she said is very tiresome.

Alice Akwero, another business woman at Elegu, said she abandoned her food selling business in August this year, because of the constant floods that frequently destroyed her cooking stoves and the entire floor of her restaurant, driving clients away.

“I could not get a hygienic place for my clients to sit at because the business kept getting water-logged,” she said. 

Akwero then decided to venture into selling sweet potatoes and cassava, but says she is still being affected by the floods.

“Now the market is also flooded and I am selling my remaining goods at the pedestrian walkway. Most of my stock has been lost in the flood, “she lamented.

Grace Awili is another business woman who has been affected by the flood.

Awili said she came all the way from Lango sub region in 2018, to sell potatoes and cassava in Elegu, but she now feels the decision was not worth it.

“Just in Saturday’s floods I lost two sacks of potatoes which I bought at Shs 90,000 each. This is close to Shs 200,000 swept by water in a matter of hours. This amount is a lot in business and is not easy to recover,” Awili said.

Patrick Masada deals in onions and Irish potatoes, said he is not selling his goods, because the buyers cannot walk through the flood to buy his goods.

Masada, who has been doing business in Elegu for the past four years, said he has lost an estimated 3,500 kilograms of goods to floods at different times.

“All shops, the market and gardens are flooded. Everybody is making a loss,” Masada said.

Located at Uganda-South Sudan border, Elegu has suffered from yearly flooding since 2012, where business people lose goods worth millions of shillings. Saturday’s incident was the fifth occurrence this year.

Michael Lakony, the LC V Chairman of Amuru district, said the district does not have the capacity to respond to the disaster.

In 2019, the district signed a deal with Trade Mark East Africa and the Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives to widen the banks of River Unyama and create a channel to a tune of Shs 1.9 bn to avert the flood crisis. However, work on the channel is yet to kick off.

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