Sudanese law-enforcement officials in Kassala State bordering Eritrea foiled a smuggling operation that involved around 80 vehicles, including lorries and pickups, according to Sudan’s alrakoba.net.
The smuggling convoy that was heading to Eritrea was intercepted in West Kassala. When the convoy refused to stop, Sudanese officers fired bullets, punctured the tires of some of the vehicles forcing them to stop.
In the ensuing chaos, 10 vehicles were seized; nearly 30 re-directed back to Sudan, while 40 crossed the Eritrean border.
The operation yielded 142 thousand liters of fuel (mainly Kerosene); 140 sacks of flour; and 12 sacks of wheat.
Eleven individuals were arrested.
A source informed alrakoba.net that while the distance between Girba and Kassala is only forty kilometers, there are nearly 40 gas stations. There is no justification for that large number of stations which are encouraging smuggling due to their proximity to the Eritrean border, the source argued.
The contraband traders charge as high as 7 million Sudanese pounds (apx. 1600.00 USD) for a convoy to travel the distance to the Eritrean village of Mukeserat, which is a distance of half an hour from the loading zone near Kassala.
The Eritrean government has severe shortage of hard currency, which is currently prioritized and approved only by the President’s Office. Consequently, anything that requires hard currency–including importing spare parts for machinery and equipment and fuel–is being neglected.
The UN’s Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea reported earlier this year that Eritrea’s Air Force has been grounded due to lack of spare parts.
More recently, Eritrea has been experiencing frequent power shortages because the relatively-new power plant in Hirgigo is in a state of disrepair due to lack of maintenance and replacement of spare parts.
The shortage of fuel has also impacted all the services the government is supposed to provide residents. For example, in Asmara, the once-a-week trash-pickup round has been changed to bi-weekly schedule.
In desperation, the Eritrean government has been intensifying its contraband trade and human smuggling campaigns.
Alrakoba titled its news, “A Series of Crimes To Destroy the Sudanese Economy In Eastern Sudan Continues.” These are the sort of accusations that were being voiced by the Ethiopian media shortly before the Eritrea-Ethiopia “border war” of 1998.
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