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We are behind the robust growth and peace

By | Mar 14th 2010 | 3 min read

Kenya’s Consular General in South Sudan Joseph Kiplagat on the country’s stake in re-construction of Southern Sudan. 

Q. There are claims that Kenyans in Southern Sudan have been victims of hatred and attacks by their hosts over business rivalry. Is this true?

Kenya’s Consular General in South Sudan Joseph Kiplagat

A: It is true there have been some incidences where Kenyans have lost their lives due to criminal attacks but these are isolated cases and the culprits, including a soldier, have been arrested and charged with murder. I must state here clearly that there are no organised attacks or hatred against Kenyans. Sudanese are peace- loving people. They are still a traditional community, if you don’t provoke them, they will always welcome you. Many of them are still recovering from the post-war trauma and are slowly adjusting to normal social life.

Q. What is the level of Kenya’s private sector investment in Southern Sudan?

A: Besides our Government’s massive involvement in the search for peace and reconstruction of Southern Sudan, the Kenyan private sector is playing a crucial role in all sectors. Kenya has brought two banks to Juba and a third one is on the way. A Kenyan Insurance company UAP is here, too. Kenyans are behind the robust growth of the hotel and infrastructure development in Southern Sudan. Kenyans own majority of private planes serving Juba International Airport.

Q. Is it not business dominance by Kenyans that is fuelling the animosity?

A: No. There is no animosity between Kenyans and Southern Sudanese. But there are small normal feuds, which the consulate has been helping to resolve. In any case, the Sudanese are still busy reconstructing their country that was destroyed by war. With the elections next month and a referendum next January it is luxury to them to venture into the service industry. Kenyans, like other countries, have stepped in to bridge the gap.

Q. What are some of the weighty issues and complaints being raised by Kenyans in Southern Sudan?

A: First there is high cost of living. Some have also been complaining of arbitrary arrests by police. Others complain about forceful takeover of their business by Sudanese partners. Another issue is the shortage of health facilities, a weak legal system and lack of harmonised taxation that resulted in many government agencies and counties collecting tax. But we also have some complaints against some Kenyans who are involved in illegal activities. Some have crossed back to Kenya without paying their debts. But these issues are being handled at official levels.

Q. How safe is Juba?

A: Juba is generally a safe town. Many Kenyans are literally sleeping out in insecure tents with their belonging. When I came here in 2007, I used to live in an open compound with only one unarmed guard. The reason for the crime rate is that Army barracks are all over the town and the soldiers are everywhere. The disadvantage of this, however, is that some of the soldiers sometimes engage in crime, like the one who killed three Kenyans last year.

Q. Is Kenya involved in Peace Keeping in Southern Sudan?

A. Yes. Our soldiers are actively involved in peace keeping in Southern Sudan under UNMIS. We have a strong 800 Kenyan Battalion (KenBat-09) based in Wau and Rumbek. This is our fourth battalion since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. The next battalion will report in May this year.

Q. We had many Kenyan registered road construction companies working on key projects. How are they doing now?

A: The construction companies employed many Kenyans but only four are left. Two are doing well but the other two have problems. One has been black listed for doing shoddy work.

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