MARACHA. The recent security meeting between Uganda and Congolese Authorities at Malaba border post in Oleba Sub County, Maracha district has boosted cross-border trade between the two countries.

The meeting which was initiated by Col Bernard Tuhame, the UPDF 503 Brigade Commander – West Nile followed several complaints of alleged harassment and arrest of Ugandan traders by Congolese officials in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Ugandan traders mainly operating in DRC markets of Malaba, Ariwara and Duruba accused Congolese authorities of mistreatment leading to arrests, loss of property and extortion especially at different check points in the Country.

It is for this reason that Tuhame emphasized the need for peaceful coexistence between Ugandans and Congolese since Uganda is hospitable to hundreds of Congolese and South Sudan refugees.

As a result, hundreds of Ugandans have resumed business in Congo citing reduction in harassment and general insecurity.

A section of Ugandan traders mainly women in Malaba market testified to West Nile Web that in the past, it used to be very hard to associate with Congolese authorities and the business community but this time round, the rampant cases of mistreatment at Congo road blocks are no more.

cassava traderA trader sells cassava chips at Malaba border market in Maracha district. PHOTO BY GEOFFREY ANGUPALE

Inside Malaba market, Ugandans buy grains and cereals like rice and groundnuts in large quantities and in turn supply the Congolese with cassava chips and fish.

Mr Alex Adriko, a resident of Robu Village in Oleba Sub-County, who deals in rice said since the meeting was held, Congolese officials no longer harass them as it used to be. He called for constant engagement meetings between the two neighbors for mutual benefit.

“We are now fine. Everything is okay as you see, we are enjoying business. These people (Congolese) have calmed down from the time that meeting was held and to date, no more extortion of money, mistreatment and arrests made against us,” Adriko said.

In a week, Adriko buys more than twelve tones of Rice which he sales to other traders in Arua and Kampala.

The market that operates mainly on Tuesday and Friday provides other wide range of products like papyrus mat, fruits, animals among others attracting traders from Koboko, Maracha and Arua.

Some of the traders mainly from Oluvu Sub-County remained thankful to their former LC3 Chairperson, Mr Simon Matua whom they said has continued to intervene whenever their properties are confiscated by Congolese and also negotiate the release of Ugandans detained in DRC.

A migration officer based at Malaba border point, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press, said they have realized the need to upgrade the market, a move he said will not happen if the restrictions are not relaxed.

Traders applauded Ugandan government for investing in structural development in other parts of the region but appealed for the same to be done at Malaba market where transactions are done in the open as there are no lockups and shelter for traders.