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Ugandan traders protest exorbitant visa fees in South Sudan

Ugandan nationals at the Ugandan Embassy in Juba where they had taken their petition over exorbitant visa fees on Friday

By Simon Deng

Ugandan nationals living in Juba petitioned their embassy over what they said were exorbitant visa fees levied on them by South Sudan immigration officers.

Moses Nyanzia, a 32 -year -old Ugandan trader in Gumbo who was one of the petitioners said that migration authorities are charging him 100 U.S dollars for a one month visa.

 Previously East African nationals were issued three-month visa at cost of 50 dollars.

 “Previously we paid 50 dollars for three- months and now they want 100 dollars for one month. This money is payable but is too high for such a short period,” Nyanzi who sells clothes in Sherikat on the outskirt of Juba told Juba Echo.

He urged the government of South Sudan and the government of Uganda to engage on the visa issue.

South Sudan recently reached a deal with Kenya to scrap visa fees for their nationals.

 “My issue is all about the visa fee they are asking 100 dollars every month,” Nyanzi who also bemoaned high taxes levied on his business said.

Betty Ssenyondwa, a business woman, also in Shirikat said that several of her colleagues are stressed over the high visa fee.

She said paying the monthly 100 dollars is choking her capital, since she has to also pay rent for her business and accommodation.

“I work in a hotel in Shirikat, I get paid 500 SSP per day, my worry is where I will get always the money for visa?” Ssenyondwa pondered.

“They (police) have started entering residential areas where they violently arrest those whose visas have expired,” she said.

 “The manner in which we are being handled by security officers is very bad, when we enter this country we pay money at the border point and when we reach here we also pay a lot of money.”

Akarma Kabuuza, a 30 year old trader in Munuki said he is finding it hard to acquire money for monthly visa due to the prevailing economic hardship that has hurt business.

 He suggested that authorities ease the visa fee.

“I have been here for two years now, we have been ready to register as foreigners but our complaint is on the huge money they are charging for visa,” Kabuuza said.

“If business was good most people would not hesitate to pay for visa.”

Lt. Gen. Atem Marol Biar, the Director General for Directorate for Civil Registry, Nationality, Passport and Immigration said the authentic visa fee is still 50 dollars but for one month period contrary to the previous three month.

“The visa fees for one month is 50 dollars, it also depends on the duration, there is also multiple visa, there is also a different one for those overstaying,” Biar told Juba Echo.

“There is a calculation that is applied, if it goes beyond 100 dollars, that means it comes with a fine,” he said.

Biar added that there are some foreign nationals who illegally enter South Sudan, or those who overstay without renewing their visa.

“There are those who are staying without being documented, these are the people we fine,” he said.

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