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Nairobi traders rue South Sudan adventure

Juba.

Traders who have flocked to South Sudan in the last two years are counting losses as Africa’s youngest country drifts towards full-scale civil conflict.

Juba-based Nairobi businessmen have abruptly closed shop and run for their lives after last Sunday’s ‘coup attempt’ that has rapidly degenerated into an ethnic flare-up.

“I closed my business on Monday,” said Peter Muriuki, an independent construction contractor and the owner of Juba Safari Resort, Friday.

He said following the insecurity and tension, he was left with no other option.

His hotel is incurring losses of up to Sh50,000 daily.

“During the festive season, we are usually very busy, so the amount I’m losing could be much higher,” he adds.

He has been forced to postpone a building project that was to be completed in January, to an unspecified date.

“I evacuated my employees at the site on Thursday because it was increasingly getting insecure,” he said.

Muriuki hopes to resume business once the situation calms but Keny Kinyua, another businessman, says he will never go back. He owned an M-Pesa shop in Juba.

Kinyua cites political uncertainty and a hostile business environment in South Sudan as reasons to move back to Nairobi.

“Being uncertain of security and other business matters is not something one can deal with easily. I’m not going back,” he says.