Presidents intervene in Uganda, South Sudan maize row
The presidents of Uganda and South Sudan have intervened in a maize row that had threated to ruin relations between the two countries.
In June 2023, 65 Ugandan trucks transporting maize to South Sudan were impounded by the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS) at the Nimule-Elegu border post on allegations that the quality of some of the maize was compromised.
The South Sudan authorities alleged that the maize contained aflatoxins of over 10bpp, a high measure of abundance of b-propeller phytases (bpp) and therefore, unsuitable for human consumption.
In a brief to Parliament chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, on Thursday, 06 July 2023, the Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Trade), Hon. Harriet Ntabazi, said efforts from Uganda’s Prime Minister and the Minister for East African Community Affairs failed to solve the impasse.
Despite efforts by officials from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to access the trucks, they were blocked by their counterparts because the trucks had been moved seven kilometres into the South Sudan territory.
“The team of standards experts was to draw samples from the trucks for further testing and analysis but they were not allowed on account that the matter was now under the control of the South Sudan National Security body,” said Ntabazi.
Ntabazi added: “We requested for copies of the rapid tests done by the SSNBS but the chief in charge vehemently declined stating that he could only issue results on authorisation from his bosses.”
President Yoweri Museveni and his South Sudan counterpart, President Salva Kiir agreed that the affected trucks are returned to the border post to allow for further tests on the maize by the East African Community mobile laboratory starting Friday, 07 July 2023.
The two Heads of State also agreed that the consignments that pass the test should be allowed to proceed into Juba and the non-confirming consignments be dealt with in accordance with the Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing Act.
Ntabazi pledged to brief the House on the outcome of the joint activity.