February 28, 2013 (JUBA) – Traders in Nimule, Eastern Equatoria state, have called for court intervention to halt a demolition ordered by South Sudan deputy minister of interior ten days ago, with local businessmen claiming the order is “illegal” under South Sudanese laws.
- Traders admire the Diamond Complex Hotel, within area due to be demolished in Nimule, February 26, 2013 (ST)
In a letter dated February 18, South Sudan deputy minister of interior Salva Mathok Gengdit asked “individuals” owning shops and restaurants built within “the piece of land offered to the national government as custom and migration area since August 2012” to vacate the area.
“It is clear those individuals who settled in that area are rejecting to move out to enable the [government] authority to establish an organized custom area,” partly reads the letter that takes effect on February 19.
“Today, we have ordered all those who settled in the area to move out immediately within 21 days with the effect from 19/03/2013,” the letter, signed by deputy minister Mathok, added.
Traders responded by petitioning Eastern Equatoria state governor Luis Lobong Lojore, asking for a reversal of the decision they claim is “non-procedural” and “illegal” under the laws of South Sudan.
“There is no consultation to us as owners of hotels and small shops in the area,” said Abraham Makur Duot, the chairperson of the affected traders in Nimule.
Makur refutes the assertion that they are rejecting to vacate the area.
“We are not refusing giving the land to the government when channel of administration are procedural,” said Makur, adding that the deputy minister is not the right person to dialogue over land located in Nimule.
The proposed new South Sudan Customs and Migration Offices are ran by ministry of interior.
Manyok Alaak, the owner of Twin Star hotel in Nimule, a South Sudan town in Eastern Equatoria state located 195km southeast of national capital Juba, said traders took another step on Thursday as the March 11, 2013 ultimatum dateline approaches.
“We have asked an independent lawyer in Juba to file our complaint with [the] ministry of justice because this order is not constitutional,” Manyok told Sudan Tribune, referring to South Sudan’s 2009 Land Act, Article 34, which secured the right to housing and compensation in case of eviction.
Asked whether he is confident in the neutrality of the court on handling land issues, Manyok said “what we need is correct interpretation of the law.”
The traders want to be consulted, relocated and given enough time “not 21-days because these structures took years to build,” said another trader, Daniel Wel Thon, who owns 21 roomed Diamond Hotel Complex in Nimule.
Efforts made to reach Deputy Minister Salva Mathok for his reaction to the traders’ complaints were futile as he was reportedly out of the country.