At a market in Aweil, southern Sudan, goods are scarce and prices have jumped. Traders say that goods are no longer coming from the north into the south, and both buyers and sellers are feeling the effects.
Some traders say the cause is likely increased insecurity in the Abyei region, on the border of north and south Sudan. Arab tribesmen, called Misseriya, have attacked buses of southerners traveling across the border. One such attack last week killed 10 people. Some traders say fear of attacks has stopped the flow of goods along the road from the north to southern Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
“We are not going to the north now because there are always attacks from Baggara [Arab] group,” said Bol Ngor, who sells clothes at the Aweil market. “There are now few clothes with us, but some of them are missing such as trousers, t-shirts, and other for ladies. Buyers come and buy slowly.”
Ngor said he hopes that after the south achieves its independence, the situation will improve. “This happened because of votes we have cast for separation. When we get our freedom after results we shall have our own things.”
According to Deng Deng Akuei, a tax officer from Warawar town, a checkpoint on the route north, traders on both sides of the border worry about road insecurity. But he suggested those fears are misplaced.
“Traders in the north suspect that if they bring their goods they will be looted on the way here, but this is not true. No one will take them by force. Also, the Dinka traders who go to north, moving on the road also fear of getting killed. All these are bringing about the fear,” he said.
Akuei added that traders should be looking to Khartoum as the source of rising prices.
“Also, we hear on the radios that goods are getting expensive in Khartoum at the factories,” he said. “These are the reasons traders need to look at first.”
With few goods left in the markets, there is hope that the situation will be resolved soon. The governors of Northern Bahr el Gazal and Southern Kordofan states are said to be in consultation on how to get trade moving again.
One buyer, who did not want to reveal her identity, talked about just how much food prices have risen.
“I bought sugar with three pounds, and also the biscuits. Last time, I used to buy it with one pound a kilo. Three biscuits used to be one pound, but now things are expensive indeed,” she said.
Like others, this buyer seemed hopeful that the referendum results and implementation will bring better times. “I think this is happening because there is stable peace coming,” she said.