Kenyan businessman Patrick Mwangi was until six years ago a regular supplier of all types of furniture to South Sudan.
Mwangi, based in Kitale, northwest Kenya, enjoyed orders to supply the commodities to Torit town and by extension to Juba, capital of South Sudan.
Mwangi’s business was promising and his products had caught the eyes of many customers in Kapoeta region in South Sudan.
But Mwangi has no longer supplied furniture to the country. He stopped delivering the commodity due to the South Sudan civil war that has rocked the county for more than six years.
“I used to supply my products and there was a high demand for furniture in Kapoeta region particularly Torit town until violence disrupted the business,” Mwang told Xinhua.
Mwangi said his business has gone down after missing out lucrative market in the Africa’s youngest country.
After it became difficult to deliver the goods to South Sudan, Mwangi’s business was grounded forcing him to lay off about 20 workers he had hired.
“My business was grounded by the war and I was forced to lay off my workers. Income to support my family was affected,” he said.
Mwangi is among several Kenyan traders displaced by the ethnic violence in South Sudan.
At Kitale’s open railway ground, where years back there was a bee of activities as traders load food supplies destined to South Sudan, things are different.
“Before the violence broke out we used to load thousands of tons of food and goods into trucks to South Sudan but nowadays this does not happen. We were rendered jobless,” explained John Ekiru, who used to work as a loader at the loading grounds.
According to Ekiru, more than 300 business people who supplied goods to South Sudan were displaced by the war. Transporters were also ejected out the business.
And on Monday, the affected Kenyan businesspeople welcomed the efforts by South Sudan warring parties declaration to end to the country’s brutal civil war.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s arch-rival and opposition leader Riek Machar was sworn in last Saturday as his first deputy, narrowly meeting a trice delayed deadline to form a transitional coalition government as part of a power-sharing agreement signed in September 2018. The transitional government will lead the country to elections in three years.
Kiir has urged the population to forgive one another like he and Machar did and assured the country that peace was now “irreversible”.
“It is no longer in the corner or on the way,” he said last Saturday. “Peace is here in Juba and it will spread to all corners of our country,” Kiir said in a key address to the nation in Juba.
Lauding the bold step by the two leaders, Kenyan traders said their desire is to see a united South Sudan to create a conducive environment for business.
“We earned a living by selling goods to people of South Sudan and we are grateful that the new peace deal brings to end violence in the country so that we resume our business,” Mwangi told Xinhua.
He argued that the war has not only affected Sudanese nationals but its neighbors such as Kenyans. Enditem