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South Sudan conflict hurts Kenyan traders

07 January 2014, 14:38 Robert Manyara

Nairobi - For several days, John Kinyua has been out of business.

The continued fighting in South Sudan forced Kinyua to halt exporting food and wares to Juba, the county's capital city.

"I stopped supplying goods to Juba since the conflict erupted in the country and I'm now jobless," Kinyua said in Kitale, northwest Kenya on Monday.

The businessman has in the past three years been supplying food and wares to Juba from Kitale. Kinyua is among over 200 business people in Kitale locked out from the lucrative business opportunities in the newly created country.

Peter Wanyama who runs a furniture workshop in Kitale late last week laid off his five workers because of lack of business. Wanyama, a carpenter by profession is a major supplier of furniture such as tables and beds to South Sudan.

"Because of the ongoing violence the business has came to an abrupt end. I have been forced to terminate the services of five workers," Wanyama told Xinhua at his workplace.

Wanyama has in the past several years depended on markets in South Sudan to make ends meet. "For the past months, the furniture I delivered to Juba earned me good money and I had plans to expand the business and buy new machines but the conflicts has denied me the opportunity to rap from the business," he added.

Other people whose lives seem to be ruined by the fighting, is a widow Grace Kamau. "I'm in trouble. There is no money to pay fee for two daughters in high school. My business has been grounded since the violence broke out there," laments Kamau, a supplier of plastic utensils.

She says that her deliveries to Juba have supported her daughters' education needs. "This was the source of income. I have been supporting my daughters. Schools have opened but I don't have money to send them to school," cursed Kamau.

Unlike in the past months when there was a bee hive of activities at Kitale's railway grounds, the area is deserted. The ground has been the packing bay for the food and goods destined for South Sudan.

Loaders have their tale over the shattered business to the neighboring country. "This ground has been our source of living. We used to offer loading services and earn income. We are sleeping hungry," said Elisha Simiyu, the chairman of the loaders at the railway ground.

Simiyu could not hide his urge for the two warring sides to end the fighting for business to resume. "I pray that the two warring groups reach an amicable solution and end the violence to enable us resume our activities and Fighting is continuing in South Sudan as the warring parties meet in Ethiopia to try to agree a ceasefire.

The conflict pits supporters of Kiir against rebels led by his sacked deputy, Riek Machar. At least 1,000 people have been killed since violence erupted on Dec. 15, 2013.

The unrest started after South Sudan's president accused Machar of attempting a coup - which he denies.

Nearly 200,000 people have been displaced in the conflict, which has taken on ethnic undertones. Kiir is from the majority Dinka community and Machar from the Nuer group.

- Xinhua


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