Rumbek market closes for three days amid traders protest
June 17, 2015 (RUMBEK) – Traders in Rumbek, capital of Lakes state, have gone on strike following the killing of Sudanese trader last Sunday by unknown gunmen. The shops in Rumbek market have remained closed for three days in protest of endangered traders.
- SPLA soldiers deploy to guard SPLM meeting in Rumbek, Lakes state, October 29, 2012 (ST)
Head of traders union, Alfred Makur Acuoth, confirmed to Sudan Tribune markets were closed and that traders were demanding safety and for local tax to be reduced by the state government.
Acuoth said traders were experiencing losses in life and in materials due to rampant insecurity while the state government was levying more taxes from them, saying the strike aimed to address the grievances.
“Yes we close market for three days and it will continue till clear message would come from state government – we are losing life and properties – we need protection and tax to be easy on our goods – we gain nothing in all our goods – we are being killed and being harassed,” lamented Acuoth.
Also the exchange rate of US dollars, he said, had increased from 1,000SSP to 1,500SSP per $100 in Rumbek market, making it difficult to import goods from the neighbouring countries as South Sudanese pounds has either not been recognized by the exporting countries or it has become almost worthless.
South Sudanese pound’ exchange rate against the US dollar in 2005 was only 2SSP per $1 when the new local currency was introduced, becoming the strongest currency in Africa at the time. Now it has rapidly depreciated by nearly 1000% in the black market, especially after the 2013 crisis in the country.
Acuoth also said Rumbek town, Lakes state’s capital, has become more synonymous with insecurity, adding traders were always in danger from unknown gunmen. He called upon state government to provide security and to reduce local tax.
He also called on the state government to ensure US dollars were in circulation in the state in order to ease importation of goods from neighboring countries.
“Let state government make dollar available for us as well as roads to be secure from robberies,” he added.
Lakes state has been in turmoil for years due to rampant insecurity caused by inter-sectional fighting and revenge killings between ethnic Dinka rival clans, coupled with robberies in towns and along the roads.
A rebellion is also in the making as Brigadier General Khamis Abdel Latif, allied to the former vice president, Riek Machar, has been mobilising, recruiting and training youth from the area to begin military activities against the state government.