Cattle traders in Gulu are stuck with losses, after the district administration imposed quarantine last month, leading to a drastic drop in beef sales.
The quarantine followed an outbreak of bovine pleuropneumonia, which had claimed 60 animals. Among those affected is South Sudanese trader Moses Tiong, who regularly buys his cattle from Soroti.
He says he hired a truck at Shs 2.3m to carry his animals from Soroti to Juba, but the consignment was impounded in Gulu this week.
"I bought the cattle at $700 [Shs 1.9m] each but we have been arrested and these people are blaming us for passing through Gulu," a visibly upset Tiong said.
Tiong describes his arrest as bad luck, considering that many traders ply the same Soroti-Gulu-Bibia route at night without trouble. However, Tiong's permit, which The Observer saw, allows him to transport animals through Nwoya, not Gulu. Another trader, Joy Among, who was carrying her goats in the same truck, has a permit indicating that she should go from Soroti through Oyam district.
The Gulu district Production officer, Dr Okidi Ochora, explained that cattle traders had permits to go through Oyam, Amolatar, Nwoya or Kitgum districts but end up using the Gulu route to reduce on transport costs and dodge bad roads.
According to the officer in charge of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence, James Asubo, the traders also carry various types of animals in a single truck, and at night, both contrary to the law. Asubo warned that anyone breaching the quarantine faced three years in jail.
Charles Ojok, a butcher in Gulu, told The Observer beef sales had dropped drastically, as they were only dealing in goat's meat. This has pushed the price of goat's meat up from Shs 10,000 to Shs 12,000 a kilo.