Fuel crisis hits Juba City

Fuel crisis hits Juba City
Boda boda operators queue for fuel at NilePet fuel station in Juba (photo credit: Alex Bullen/ City Review)

JUBA – Juba City has been hit by a worrying fuel crisis as hundreds of foreign truck drivers continue to camp at the Elegu border point of northern Uganda demanding protection from the South Sudan government before entering the country.

Last month, Kenyan, Ugandan, Rwandan, and Somalian truck drivers suspended transporting cargo to South Sudan due to growing insecurity along Juba-Nimule road, which has led to the loss of several lives and the destruction of trucks.

It is almost two weeks since drivers parked their trucks at the Elegu border on Uganda’s side which has interrupted the flow of commodities to Juba and other parts of the country.

As of yesterday, most petrol stations in Juba remained closed due to continuous protests by the truck drivers that created a shortage of fuel supply.

Jacob Anei, one of the motorists who was queuing up at Nile Petroleum Cooperation (NilePet) petrol station told the City Review that he had moved to five different petrol stations but all were closed.

He said if the government does not intervene within a few days, then the country will witness an unexpectedly sharp increase in the prices of commodities in the market, which he said will also affect transportation charges.

“I have been here for more than one hour after visiting four petrol stations. [What I can say is that] after three days if things continue like this then we are going to see another suffering of sleeping at petrol stations waiting for fuel,” Mr. Anei stressed.

Jemmy Alia, another motorist told City Review that he was forced to pay SSP1, 000 for a half-liter through a black market seller.

Exorbitant prices

“Here they still sell a liter at SSP 350 but in other petrol stations, starting from yesterday, a liter costs 480 to 500 SSP.  We are praying that it will never reach such a situation,” Ali said.

He blames the insecurity along the Juba-Nimule road and other routes connecting South Sudan with neighboring countries for the shortage of supply of fuel in the country.

However, authorities said there are plans to provide security escorts for cargo trucks from Nimule to Juba and vice versa.

Col. James Dak Karlo, the South Sudan Deputy Police Spokesperson, said the government was in talks with traders over the resumption of their duties.

“Yes, we are aware, but we are working hard to see that at the end of the day things change for the better. The issue will soon be better addressed,” Dak told to City Review exclusively.

He said the Inspector General of Police was in contact with most embassies of the East African countries in Juba about the issue and that soon the matter would be addressed.

“We are engaging with the governments from East African countries to ensure security from Uganda border points to Juba,” he noted.

He said the high-level delegation consisting of National Security Service (NSS), Custom, Immigration, Police, and other security sectors will soon visit Nimule to negotiate with traders and drivers.

“It is just a matter of time things will change for the better. What we request from the public and the traders in the country, let them be patient as the government is working for a better day,” he promised.

The deputy police spokesperson further called on the traders, especially the petrol station owners to continue selling what they have instead of taking advantage of the truck drivers’ strike to close down and subject motorists and individuals to suffering.

The drivers who are transporting goods to Juba refused to cross into South Sudan demanding that authorities address the incidents of violent crimes such as hijackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, kidnappings that have been happening along the Juba-Nimule highway.

The Elegu-Nimule-Juba route is a major transport corridor between Uganda and South Sudan.

Efforts to reach Chambers of Commerce authorities for comment were not immediately successful.