Nimule border strike shows lapse in addressing market price issues

Nimule border strike shows lapse in addressing market price issues

Last Friday, the South Sudan Clearing Agents and Freight Forwarders Association (SSCAFFA) went on strike, decrying the increase in licencing fees alongside other restrictions that they consider punitive.

Speaking to this newspaper, Deng Kiir Deng, the Secretary for Public Relations at SSCAFFA, said the strike was their last resort after failing to agree with customs and the National Revenue Authority over a raft of issues.

“We are concerned about the issues of licence fee increases, restrictions on the number of clearing companies, and most importantly, the ongoing problem of needless collections at Nimule station offices,” he said.

The officials of SCAFFA claimed that they had unsuccessfully sought to meet the government officials to strike a middle ground but their efforts were fruitless.

For instance, Ayuen Michael, the technical advisor for the SSCAFFA, said that their attempts to communicate with the customs revenue division did not yield any positive results.

“We made every effort to get in touch with Africano Mande, the commissioner general of the South Sudan Revenue Authority, and Brig. Gen. Aduot Ajang, the commissioner for the Customs Division, but none of them responded favourably,” he lamented.

As a result of this, there is a genuine fear that the prices of commodities could skyrocket if this status quo remains. Barely two months ago, the country waited for the government with baited breath to come up with an economic stimulus plan, and remedies to the rising prices of commodities.

In response, the government came up with stopgap measures to address these problems, among them the importation of subsidised food to cushion consumers from the impacts of inflation. Up to now, there is no scientific finding to ascertain that this remedy actually works. But at the bare minimum, it is helpful to households, particularly those near the stores.

However, the commitment of the government, particularly the institutions under the economic clusters, is once again put to the test. Despite agreeing on ironing out the challenges ballooning the prices of commodities, there are even more emerging concerns. Illegal roadblocks are yet to be removed, and multiple taxes are yet to be harmonised. But there is another fresh concern about the irregular increase in import fees and licencing for clearing and forwarding companies. Certainly, the consumer is the one to suffer. But until when?