The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Falling 'Juba' Pound Further Dampens Trade

The falling South Sudanese pound has not made matters any better, with many saying they are working at loss because of the depreciating currency. For the last one week, the South Sudanese pound has traded at an average of Shs 300, down from Shs 700 at the start of December.

"We have nothing to do. There are very few people buying the Sudanese pound. We, therefore, have to buy it on the cheap," said one teller at Dollar House forex bureau, where a Sudanese pound is bought at Shs 250 and sold at Shs 320.

"I was in Juba last week but the city is so isolated. There are very few buyers, which means prices remain low," notes Isaac Miti, who says that more people have since decided to sell their merchandise in the towns of Arua and Gulu.

South Sudan has been at war since mid December, as President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, jostle for power. The war, which has reportedly left some 1,000 people dead, and thousands more displaced, has sucked in Ugandan troops, putting the entire region on tenterhooks. That, nonetheless, has not dampened some Ugandans' moods to head back to a region many consider ripe with abnormal profits.

By December 30, many traders at Arua park and Nakasero market were seen loading trucks to resume their business in the South Sudan capital of Juba. An agent with Bakulu coaches, which plies the Kampala-Juba route, said they were now sending three buses - it used to be four - to Juba every day.

"Most people are now making return journeys from South Sudan. We send half-filled buses [so that] they can pick more stranded people," said the agent, adding that the situation was calm in Juba and more people were booking.

Friendship coaches and Baby coaches are the other two companies with buses on the route.

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