October 20, 2013 (RUMBEK) – The business community in Lakes state’s capital Rumbek says it is continuing to struggle since the takeover of military caretaker governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol who replaced elected governor Chol Tong Mayay in January.
- Many business owners in Lake state’s Rumbek Central county say they have been forced to shut down after being subject to threats and intimidation by security agents (ST)
Shops owners in Rumbek Central market claim they have been forced to shut down, amid complaints of high taxes, security concerns and harassment by authorities.
Local businesses are also increasingly being overwhelmed by foreign business communities composed of Kenyan, Ugandan and Sudanese nationals.
The majority of business owners interviewed by Sudan Tribune this week requested anonymity amid fears of reprisals from state authorities.
One businessman said he had been left with no option to close his wholesale company in Rumbek Central county. He plans to re-open his business in Central Equatoria’s Yei county.
He accused the Lakes state government of being “harsh and aggressive”, saying businesses had faced “high taxes and intimidation” on a daily basis.
One 30-year-old man said that authorities were involved in the illegal collection of taxes.
“I have decided to close down my business because I am getting nothing; I am completely not benefiting at all from my shop – I sit in the shop and no customers [are] coming to buy; I am told that local resident are scared to come to town”, the man said.
He said Lake state authorities had been implicated in the unlawful collection of money from business owners and intimidating civilians.
Forty-year-old vegetable seller Rebecca Amer Majok expressed her disappointment with the current state leadership, describing the situation as a “rule of abuse”.
Amer said the government had failed to fulfil its promises to citizens, adding that “harassment and intimidation [has] become a permanent [part of the] constitution of Lakes state”.
“Daily you can hear of a person who is tortured to death in a military cell. You can hear people are being robbed on the highway. You can hear unknown gunman shot a person dead. You can hear women died in hospital during childbirth. You can hear government officials are having a conflict among themselves. You can hear disarmament is being imposed. You can hear key powerful [people] are [being] targeted”, she said.
FOREIGN BUSINESS SHUTS DOWN
The complaints follow the closure of a well-known foreign company operating in Rumbek Central county, which announced on 12 October it was shutting down its operations as a result of government-imposed restrictions on its business activities since June.
AFEX Group was the first company to begin operating in Rumbek Central county after the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) signed a peace deal with Khartoum in 2005.
The business community in Rumbek Central county claim their complaints of harassment and abuse have been repeatedly ignored by the government.
The community was also upset by the governor’s decision to ban alcoholic drinks earlier this year, saying the move has damaged their businesses.
It also emerged on Wednesday that 30-year-old businessman Mohamed Adom Taric was killed by a man suspected to be a member of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in what appeared to be a targeted attack.
The victim, who was a member of Darfur’s Zaghawa ethnic group, was killed in the Malakia area of Rumbek in a small lodge owned by Kolnyin Maker Ater Achien after armed men surrounded the residence, an An official from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said on condition of anonymity.
Many foreign business owners have already shut up shop, amid fears authorities cannot guarantee their protection.