Long-distance truck drivers on Monday agreed to resume transporting goods to the South Sudan capital, Juba.
Last month, over 6,000 truck drivers suspended travels to Juba and parked their cargo fleets at the Elegu border at the Ugandan side in protest of armed violence on foreign drivers along the Nimule-Juba highway.
The gunmen waylaid and shot dead three Kenyans and a Ugandan truck driver in different ambushes between July and August. Several others were injured while others remained unaccounted for.
In response, the truck drivers suspended travels to Juba and demanded security, compensation for the colleagues who lost their lives and Lorries burnt down by the gunmen before they could resume normal operations.
Among other demands included clearing bushes 15-meters wide on either side of the highway and removing unnecessary roadblocks used by unscrupulous security personnel to extort money from foreign drivers.
Four different meetings during the period of the strike brokered by Ugandan authorities to compel the truckers to call off the strike and resume delivery of goods to the conflict-prone country failed as the drivers demanded written commitment from the Juba administration.
On Monday, South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Monday wrote to the embassies of Uganda and Kenya committing to providing security for foreign truckers along the Juba-Nimule highway of death.
However, Elija Nyaga, a Kenyan trucker in Elegu argued that the letter does not capture core issues that guarantee their safety and security in case of any continued attack on foreign drivers.
Mansook Mwija, another truck driver argued the letter was written in a diplomatic language that makes it hard for the truckers to hold the South Sudan authorities accountable if they attacked which still leaves them in dilemma.
Ivan Kakire, the Regional Manager for Uganda Revenue Authority said that the letter is timely because tons of fresh commodities are like matooke, Irish potatoes are rotting.
Sudi Mwatela, the Chairperson of the Long-Distance Truck Drivers Associations said he is not convinced by the letter because, in the past, they agreed with South Sudan authorities for long term remedies to their grievances but none has been implemented.
The Amuru Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Oceng Osborn who brokered the meeting with guidance from the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister, Henry Okello Oryem said the letter offers a green-light towards achieving the safety of foreign truckers while in South Sudan.
On Tuesday morning, cargo trucks delivering fresh commodities have been released from Elegu border, and they will be followed by fuel tank trucks.