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S. Sudan Officials Ask Uganda to Ban Cross-border Trade in Crude Gin

Former Torit state Governor Alberio Tobiolo Oromo, says that the potent gin has influenced high crime rates among the youth in Eastern Equatoria State. He says that the high cattle theft in the neighbouring areas or Agoro, Madi-opei sub-counties in Lamwo District, Orom and Kiteny Sub counties in Kitgum District is directly linked to the urge by youth to get money for consuming the gin.
Production of the ilicit gin sold across South Sudan Eastern Equatoria State. courtesy photo

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Officials from the Eastern Equatoria State of South Sudan have tasked their Ugandan counterparts to enforce a strict ban on the sale of crude gin to its citizens across the border.

The calls come amidst a boom in trade of the illicit gin by Uganda traders at the South Sudan-Uganda border points of Apiriti, Waligo, Ngomoromo, and Aweno Olwi in Lamwo District.

Former Torit state Governor Alberio Tobiolo Oromo, says that the potent gin has influenced high crime rates among the youth in Eastern Equatoria State. He says that the high cattle theft in the neighbouring areas or Agoro, Madi-opei sub-counties in Lamwo District, Orom and Kiteny Sub counties in Kitgum District is directly linked to the urge by youth to get money for consuming the gin.

According to Oromo, a 20-litre jerry-can of the crude waragi is exchanged with a bull in South Sudan thus influencing cattle theft. The matter was a key point of contention in a bilateral security meeting held in Orom Sub-county in Kitgum District.

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Oromo urged the Ugandan authorities in Kitgum and Lamwo Districts to coordinate their intelligence in enforcing a total ban on the sale of crude waragi in their country. Alphonse Muras, the Member of Parliament for Constituency 22 in Eastern Equatoria State alleges that several youths and old men have died as a result of drinking the waragi.

He says they are surprised that the illicit alcohol is traded openly at the Ugandan border points with full knowledge of the security personnel and immigration officials.

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Lamwo District Chairperson John Komakech Ogwok, however, blamed Uganda Revenue Authority agents at the border points for failing to intercept the alcohol. He alleges that the officials are responsible for clearing the illicit to collect revenue without minding that it's illegal.

“..."We had a meeting with South Sudan last year on this and we pointed a finger at URA, they are just after money and they are clearing anything that goes to South Sudan,” Ogwok told Uganda Radio Network in an interview.

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner James Nabinson Kidega, however, says enforcing the ban without a clear guiding legal document from the South Sudan government will be a hurdle for them. Kidega says Lamwo District has been allowing the trade on grounds that the council hasn’t passed any bylaw banning the sale and consumption of the local gin.

"This local gin is not banned by Lamwo district local government, if South Sudan doesn’t want its sale, they should come out with legal documents to enforce its restriction,” Says Kidega.

He also notes that leaders from the two countries should schedule a specific meeting on trade between the two sides and jointly discuss and agree on the legal modalities to ban the cross border sale of the local gin.