Cargo stuck in Elegu-Nimule border as drivers protest digital system

Cargo stuck in Elegu-Nimule border as drivers protest digital system
In April heavy trucks en route Juba via Nimule halt travel as drivers protested insecurity (photo credit: Africa Freedom Network)

Truck drivers ferrying goods to South Sudan have parked their vehicles at Elegu border in protest of the new digital security tag fees issued by the South Sudan traffic police.

In the document dated July 22, 2022, the Directorate of Traffic Police ordered immediate implementation of the digital border security tag policy where vehicles crossing into South Sudan would be charged $100 annual fees.

Drivers is also required to pay additional $60 every time the vehicle goes through the security system that is operated by a private firm.

“Effective from August 1, 2022, all vehicles arriving to South Sudan through Nimule border, must acquire a digital border security control tag of $100(one hundred USD Dollars) valid for one year, and pay a control fee of $60 every time a vehicle is going through the entry gate,” the order reads in part.

The system that launched on August 1, is meant to improve border security and to prevent criminals from crossing the border undetected.

“All traffic police at Nimule border are hereby directed to ensure compliance by all the vehicles entering South Sudan by August 1, 2022,” it added.  

However, this order has met a serious protest from the foreign truck drivers.  

In an exclusive interview with City Review yesterday, Deng Daniel, Chairperson of Clearing Agents at Nimule Border, said many drivers have parked their trucks at Elegu border citing high service fee.

“They [drivers] have not released any truck. There is no any compliance from the drivers. We met some of them and they have been complaining about the new policy,” Deng said.

However, Deng warned that the policy would have a negative impact on both the clearing agents and the citizens as well.

Mohaud Solomon, the Minister of Interior, cuts reborn at the launch of the vehicle registration and control system at the Nimule border point. [Photo: Wek Atak]

“Once the drivers strike at that side of Uganda we shall have no cargo coming in to be cleared until it is solved; it is going to stop our work.

“The citizens will suffer because it is going to have a negative impact on the prices of goods [because] the traders will later increase the prices of goods in the market,” Deng added. 

Anxiety on the increase

He said the agents are still working hard to engage the authorities to reach an amicable solution. 

However, Deng claimed that the National Revenue Authority (NRA) was not aware of the new policy.

“I think the NRA is aware not about on what is happening because we contacted them and they said that they do not have any idea about what is happening,” he said.

“If there is any revenue collection for government, then it should be addressed through NRA,” he added. 

Meanwhile, a leader of Ugandan truck drivers’ union said the order was issued without any consultation from the transporters or traders from the East African Community – EAC. 

“The authorities could have included the transporters before the start to implementing this policy, the transporters are the ones refusing to pay the fee needed at South Sudan border in order for drivers to cross to Juba,” he said. 

The source maintained that all transporters were unwilling to pay the money to enable drivers to cross to their destination. 

“The transporters said they do not have money to pay to the drivers to be allowed by the traffic to cross, the burden will be placed on us the drivers so we can’t cross because the transporters themselves have refused.”

“The drivers do not want to pay the digital security fee because it is too much money.”

The head of drivers added that the East African countries did not have such policies.

“The EAC community does not have this, for example, in Kenya there is no the issue of security tag being paid, in Uganda, there is no digital tag, in Rwanda, it is not there I do not know why it is only in South Sudan.”