JUBA – The reopening of borders between South Sudan and Sudan has been halted until further notice due to the current political instability in Sudan, an official has said, Radio Tamazuj reports.
In August, after a meeting between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, the two neighboring countries agreed to reopen their borders after 11 years.
The leaders resolved that four border crossing posts of Jebeleen-Renk, Meiram, Buram-Tumsah, and Kharsana-Panakuac would be officially opened on October 1st, 2021 to ease the movement of goods and citizens between the countries, a move aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. But this has not happened.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday this week, Mary Nyaka, the Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Minister of Trade, Mining, and Investment, said the border reopening was stalled due to political unrest in neighboring Sudan.
“I have just talked to Hon. National Minister of Trade and Industry, Kuol Athian who told me that the governments are still working on it because you can see now there is a problem in Khartoum and the governments don’t know what is going to happen at the borders,” she said.
Late last month, Sudan thwarted an attempted coup as tensions continue to rise between the military and civilian groups, which are engaged in a power-sharing agreement. Officials have accused soldiers loyal o the previous government of orchestrating the coup.
This week, four suspected members of the ISIL (ISIS) group were killed in a raid by security forces in the capital Khartoum. A military officer was killed in the southern district of Jabra, according to the official news agency, SUNA.
Citizens and traders in parts of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State who have been waiting in anticipation for the reopening of the borders expressed their frustrations.
Abraham Garang, the chairperson of Warawar chamber of commerce in Aweil East County, said the traders are negatively affected by the continued border closure.
“The reopening didn’t happen at all because I am residing in Warawar here and if there was such move, I would have the information. It is affecting us because many things will face people if the trade corridors are closed, it is not good for the traders,’’ Garang said.
He revealed that some of the goods smuggled from Sudan during the dry season are about to be depleted and traders have no alternative route to bring in goods.
A citizen in Aweil North County, Dau Deng, said the reopening of the border crossings is vital for trade in the area.
“The Kiir Adem road is not opened and there are floods. No one understands whether it is the water problem that keeps the road closed or the governments are yet to implement what was agreed. If the road is opened, that will be good because we don’t produce many items here in South Sudan and our consumable items are imported from Sudan and Uganda,” said Deng.
A representative of the chamber of commerce in Gokmachar, Aweil North County, Kur Atak said, “It is affecting the traders and citizens because this road brings many things for the citizens and the traders.”
The Meiram-Aweil commercial route supplies goods from Sudan to South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, and Western Bahr el Ghazal States including areas between Sudan’s White Nile and South Sudan’s Upper Nile State.