AMURU – Authorities in Uganda and South Sudan have raised concerns over the continuous illegal trade across borders in petroleum and drugs.
For years, community members living along the border villages of Palulu, Okidi North and South in Okidi parish in Atiak sub-county have engaged in illegal trade in petroleum, drugs like marijuana.
In October last year, South Sudan authorities raised concerns over inability by the Ugandan authorities to intensify security along the border lines to curb illegal trade.
David Otto, the Commissioner of Magwi County in South Sudan in an interview with our reporter says, they are concerned by the continuous illegal trade in mairungi, sugar and petroleum. Traders normally use the porous borders manned by URA and other security agencies.
According to Otto, despite knowing the porous border points, security and revenue personnel from the two countries have failed to apprehend the illegal traders and yet opt to accept bribes, fueling the business instead.
“What bothers us is the fact that despite the Ugandan authorities knowing that mairungi is illegal in South Sudan, they still can’t stop the trade along the borders. Besides that, I know that we all know the illegal porous border points yet we can’t affect arrests to stop the trade,” Otto wonders.
In a recent cross border meeting held at Nimule, in South Sudan, officials from both Uganda and South Sudan agreed to intensify deployments along the porous borders to curtail the seeming increasing cases of illegal trade between the two countries.
Justine Ocen, a resident of Palulu village in Okidi, Atiak sub-county in Amuru district, blamed the continuous illegal trade on the laxity by the security personnel deployed at the border points.
“People have known that no one resists money and so they (the illegal traders) are giving out money to the security personnel deployed along the border points in order to buy their way to and from South Sudan as they smuggle goods between the two countries,” Ocen notes.
Aggrey Akera, Keith, the LCV Councilor for Atiak sub county confirmed that the illegal trade across borders has been on the rise in recent times with key goods smuggled including cigarettes, sugar, petroleum among others.
Akera fears that since these goods are smuggled, their quality could be compromised and may put the lives of the consumers at risk.
According to Akera, besides quality concerns, security in the entire Atiak sub-county is at risk because in some incidents, the traders have been caught with firearms.
“We know that illegal trade across the two borders is on the rise and this means insecurity is also on the rise. For instance, if guns are recovered with the dealers and sometimes cattle rustlers from South Sudan, this means the security of the people in our community is at stake,” Akera, notes.
“We have also seen a rise in accident cases because the illegal traders believe that the only way to evade the deployed security personnel is to speed up. We recently lost two people who were aboard a Noah car which was being driven at a high speed from South Sudan as they tried to evade Uganda Revenue Authority officials,” Akera further explains.
Geoffrey Oceng Osborn, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner (RDC), told our reporter that currently, new deployments have been made along the border points.
He says, following reports from the cross-border meetings and public outcry on corruption, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), has overhauled the entire staff deployed at the Elegu border post.
Atiak sub-county and Elegu Town Council lie along the border between the Uganda- South Sudan border stretching to Lamwo district where the next legal entry point is located.
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