News / Africa

Flooding Cuts Off Road Linking S. Sudan, Uganda

A key road connecting Uganda and South Sudan is cut off by flooding after days of rain.A key road connecting Uganda and South Sudan is cut off by flooding after days of rain.
A key road connecting Uganda and South Sudan is cut off by flooding after days of rain.
A key road connecting Uganda and South Sudan is cut off by flooding after days of rain.
Philip Aleu

Heavy rains have washed out a strategic road connecting South Sudan and Uganda, stranding travellers and truck drivers at the border and severely disrupting trade.

The Gulu-Nimule road was under several feet of water in places after more than a week of rainfall caused a river near the Ugandan border town of Alegu to burst its banks.

Kenyan truck driver Josephat Nyambane has been camping at the side of the usually busy road for days, waiting for it to reopen so that he can deliver his cargo of crates of beer from Kenya to Juba.

"It is affecting business because, when we come from Nairobi, we are supposed to reach Juba in three days, and we stayed on the road for like seven days," Nyambane said. "Like now, I don’t have money.”

Albino Baak, a customs officer in Nimule, said the volume of  traffic making it across the border has been slashed to around 10 percent of what it usually is.

"In a normal day, we clear more than 200 (vehicles) a day but, right now, we are just receiving like 20 to 30 trucks a day," Baak said.

That means revenues collected by border agents will also be down significantly from the usual intake of around 70 million South Sudanese pounds a month.

Frequent Weather-Related Disruptions

Traffic on the Gulu-Nimule road has been disrupted five times this year by weather-related causes.

Kenyan truck driver Wycliffe Moana said past disruptions to traffic lasted only a few days. This time, though, drivers have remained blocked at the side of the road for more than a week.

The government of Uganda is working to repair the damaged section of the road. Moana spoke for all the stranded truck drivers when he said he hopes the work will be completed soon, so that they can continue on their way.

But Ugandan officials were unable to say when they expect to be able to reopen the key road.

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