Row looms as Juba locks out Somalis


A woman in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, in January 2011. Traders are resorting to hiring non-Somali drivers to cross into the country.

South Sudan has barred people of Somali origin from entering its territory by road, creating a potential diplomatic and trade crisis with its neighbours.

On Monday, traders of Somali origin asked Juba to relax new regulations that bar them from entering the newest African state.

The traders who have been camping at Nadapal border point, the gateway to South Sudan, termed the new rules as punitive as they subjected them to heavy losses.

A senior Kenya Revenue Authority official, who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press, said that the rules were introduced two weeks ago due to what is believed to be security reasons.

“Customs officials from South Sudan have remained firm on the new rules, and it is the Foreign Affairs ministry that can intervene on the matter,” the official said.

Mr Ahmed Musa, a truck driver affected by the move, said the traders were resorting to hiring non-Somali drivers to cross into South Sudan.

Kenyan traders, including those of Somali origin, have flocked to South Sudan in search of new business opportunities.

“Most of South Sudan receives its essential commodities including cereals and vegetables from Lokichogio and the new rules will interfere with the anticipated boom in trade,” the KRA official added.

Kenya has established Immigration and customs offices at the Nadapal border point and built 51 housing units for KRA, public health and police departments.

“Plans are under way to construct more units, including a military barracks,” Mr Patrick Muriira, the Turkana West DC said by telephone.

The area had been deserted for long as it was occupied by Sudan People’s Liberation Army during the struggle to split from Khartoum.

It has also been a battle zone between members of the Turkana and Toposa communities due to plenty of pasture and water.

Mr Muriira, however, called on the two pastoral communities to discard cattle rustling and banditry and venture into legitimate business.