National, News

Ugandan Toxic maize saga takes toll on South Sudanese traders

By William Madouk

A row surrounding toxic maize flour and other products from Uganda, impounded by South Sudan National Bureau of Standard (SSNBS), still lingers on, with South Sudanese traders feeling the heat.

A South Sudanese businessman, Mr. Samuel Sokiri, who spoke to this outlet on behalf of affected traders, said they are stranded as their goods are held up to date.

He alleged that retesting of the goods in Uganda has been delayed because the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards is holding the key for warehouses in Elegu where the consignments are kept.

According to Sokiri, SSNBS offloaded the consignments at Ugandan Customs warehouses in Elegu, locked doors, and took keys.

“We wanted them [SSNBS] to speed up, come, and open those doors so that the committee has to test the remaining 55 consignments currently in the store,” Sokiri said.

He said the test would determine the fate of the goods.

“And if goods are found unfit, they will be destroyed, and if they are okay, they will be returned to where they came from, because that’s where the supplying company has to come in and compensate me,” he added.

Mr. Sokiri hinted that packing goods for almost three months now is uncalled for, adding that some goods may get rotten.

He also urged the Juba authority to give the go-ahead to the Ugandan authority if they didn’t want to partake in the joint confirmatory checkup test exercise.

Sokiri underlined that they procure goods from firms that are certified by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), so they were not aware of any malpractices.

He stated that out of the first 27 trucks that were retested, 22 were found to be fit, while 55 are still in warehouses waiting for retesting.

When contacted by No.1 citizen Daily Newspaper, SSNBS Chief Executive Officer, Mary Gordon promised to reply on Monday, saying she was engaged in the finance docket to release funds for dumping of the toxic maize.

“Just give me until Monday; I should have a full report,” Ms. Gordon texted this reporter.

However, a well-placed source at the Nimule border dismissed the allegation that SSNBS holds keys for storerooms, citing that keys are held by members of the joint committee between Uganda and South Sudan.

“We are not the ones who keep keys for warehouses as SSNBS; what I know is that the keys are with a joint committee that formed between the two countries,” the confidential source told No. 1 Citizen Newspaper.

On May 15, 2023, the South Sudan Bureau of Standards detained more than 62 trucks for a month after consignments failed to pass rapid tests conducted at the Nimule border.

That forced the affected parties on June 27, 2023, to give Juba authorities a 4-day ultimatum to release the detained trucks or they would stop supplying foodstuffs from Uganda.

They also claimed that the exercise of sampling, testing, and dissemination of confirmatory results wasn’t transparent, and none of them had seen the purported results.

Unfazed SSNBS downplayed threats by Ugandan truckers to lay down tools, citing that the final decision for South Sudan’s authority was to destroy toxic maize flour.

SSNBS also cleared doubts over testing, saying they followed a sampling procedure that is scientifically acceptable worldwide.


Comments are closed.