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Traders in Terekeka struggle to keep business afloat amid high inflation

Small scale businesses in Terekeka County of Central Equatoria State are struggling to remain in afloat as the South Sudanese Pounds continues to depreciate against the U.S dollar.

Mary Busu Nyombe, a tea seller in Terekeka market on Thursday told The Juba Echo, that she is contemplating closing shop due to the high cost of doing business, adding that the meager earnings she takes home every day cannot even feed her family.

“I have been a trader in Terekeka since 1997, for two years now, you exert efforts to gain but the economic condition is worsening, everything in the market is expensive and there is no support for the business,” Nyombe said.

“I am struggling to feed my children and paying school fees is also a problem, there are no work opportunities elsewhere, I have two kids in university but they have dropped out due to lack of money,” she added.

She attributed her troubles to the hike in market fees paid to local authorities in Terekeka Market. The authorities increased the license fee from 4000 SSP to the current 17000 SSP that is unaffordable for owners of small businesses like her.

“Everything is expensive in the market, you find a kilo of sugar increasing every day, if you increase the price of selling tea you cannot get customers,” Nyombe said.

Nora Paya, who sells vegetables and grain flour in the market, said that currently she struggling to pay her suppliers on time due to the high cost of food products.

She said that she buys her food products from suppliers from neighboring counties and states.

“As women we have many problems, we need to take our children to school but there is no money, we are trying but business is not rewarding, we want our businesses to be supported with soft loans,” Paya said.

 “I am in business to help myself and my children but all in vain, this year is very bad, sometime you walk home empty-handed, the situation is deteriorating and it is difficult to pay school fees for children,” she disclosed.

Muzamil Atijani, the Chairperson for the Chamber of Commerce in Terekaka County, said that the situation could have been exacerbated if the road linking Terekeka to Juba had not been paved with bitumen.

The inauguration of the 63 km Juba-Terekeka section of the 392 km Juba-Rumbek highway in December 2022 has helped ease the burden for traders and travellers heading to Terekeka County.

 ‘Before this road was constructed, people did not know Terekeka and now people and particularly business people are visiting the area, from Terekeka to Juba was 6 hours but now it is 45 minutes,” Atijani said.

He attributed the high cost of doing business on inflation caused by the depreciation of the SSP against the dollar.

Robert Pitia, the Chairperson for Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce, said that the challenges facing business people in Terekeka are related to issues of taxes and lack of micro-financing for business.

“We want to work with concerned institutions to assist people to do business,” Pitia said.

He asked authorities in Terekeka County and the Central Equatoria State government to reduce the tax burden on small businesses so that they thrive.

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