Protesting farmers block Sudan’s highways and stop exports to Egypt

In defiance of the security crackdown, the Sudanese continued to mobilize in the country’s cities in protest against the military coup carried out by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on October 25, 2021. Recently, a new type of resistance has emerged in the rural northern state: since early January, the prevention of Demonstrators trucks transporting goods to neighboring Egypt.

It all began on January 9, when hundreds of El-Dibba farmers closed the highway leading to the Egyptian border in protest against the high cost of electricity, which had recently risen from 9 to 22 Sudanese pounds per kilowatt-hour. According to the Energy Ministry, this increase in prices stems from a series of austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund to help relieve the country’s debt burden, which is estimated at more than 50 billion dollars (or 43 billion euros).

Since then, protesters have set up barricades along highways in the north of the country, blocking hundreds of trucks transporting goods to Egypt.

This video shows dozens of trucks positioned on the side of the highway, near the Argeen border point on January 18. “It’s a crisis, the trucks are held back up for 15 kilometers,” the Egyptian driver said while filming.

– We intercepted about forty Egyptian trucks – Yasser Farms. He was participating in protests in the Atbara area, 250 km north of Khartoum.

At first, we just wanted to force the authorities to cancel the electricity price hike, but now we’re asking for more.

Trucks transport raw foodstuffs to Egypt. Egypt buys it here at a low price and then processes it and exports it to Europe in exchange for foreign currencies, among other things.

These trucks carry livestock, sesame, peanuts, sorrel, garlic, etc. We want the authorities to build factories in Sudan so that the products can be processed here. This would create jobs and promote development in regions like ours. It will allow us to export our products at better prices.

Smuggling is also a major issue. Many trucks transport animals and agricultural products with no documentation showing where they were purchased. When we intercepted them, we handed them over to the authorities.

For us, it does not matter who leads the country. Whether it comes to soldiers or civilians, successive governments have done nothing to support us. We only want development in our region. We are not part of the protests calling for an end to military rule.

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Map showing the main locations where activists cut off the national highway to block the passage of trucks bound for Egypt. © JowharHowever, the grievances of some protesters, initially economic, have become increasingly political. They are demanding the military government to step down and the return of the transitional government that was overthrown during the coup to power.

In recent weeks, resistance committees have been formed in the north along the lines of the committees that organize weekly protests in the capital, Khartoum.

“There can be no improvement in social and economic conditions without democracy.” Ibrahim is one such activist. He is from the town of Al-Burjij, located more than 500 kilometers north of Khartoum.

The struggle to stop the rising cost of electricity is no longer a central issue for us. First, we must return to the political transition towards democracy and the establishment of democratic institutions. There can be no improvement in social and economic conditions without democracy.

today [Wednesday, February 2]I helped erect a barrier in Hafir [Editor’s note: a town located in the al-Berguig region]. About 200 trucks carrying Egyptian products were disrupted. The trucks were carrying livestock, frozen meat, and cotton, among other things.

When the trucks stop, we check the drivers to see if their documents are in order, and if they have receipts. This is one of the ways to combat smuggling, because there are a lot of camel smuggling operations between Sudan and Egypt.

However, we do not inspect the goods because we cannot interfere with the police.

In order to avoid barriers along the highway in the northern state, trucks carrying goods destined for Egypt were moving through the Port Sudan region located in the northeastern part of the country. But protesters there have also begun to block this highway, as seen in videos posted on social media.

📍 Egyptian trucks tried to circumvent the artery of the North, which was closed by protesters in the northern state, but the youth of Port Sudan were able to stop them at the transit bridge # SudanCoup # North_Speed ​​

– Mohamed Mustafa (@Moh_Gamea) January 31, 2022 This video shows a row of trucks blocked by protesters in Port Sudan on January 28. According to Sudanese economist Muhammad Al-Nayer, citing Al-Arabi, these barriers will have an impact on the economies of both countries. Sudanese exports to Egypt represent 10% of the country’s total exports. He said that the volume of exchange between the two countries exceeded one billion dollars in 2021.

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