This has nothing to do with where you pray. It has nothing to do with the political party that you’re comfortable with. This, too, has nothing to do with you – yes, you who has been branding yourself big boys and girls. What so you do? Are you a V8 engine driver or do your roll in your small cars? If yes, then give us a space. Help us free back seats for late commers. Understood? Thank you! So, what should we do? Yes, we, the gunless, the economic sardines, the least in the hierarchy of protégée, the none V8 engine drivers, little or none at all, and the haves and the have nots. what should we do, when driving, you’re seen as a ready meal by the traffic?
Like I said it earlier on, this has nothing to do with which church you go or bar you drink off your moods. It’s just becoming a disaster – especially when you don’t ride in a big car. Traffic police in this country, especially in Juba are the reason why small businesses, to be fair enough, the locals’ businesses are failing or struggling to expand. Are you wondering? I will tell you why.
Let’s say, you’re a fruit vendor. You’re based in Munuki suburb. You just graduate recently from high school. Your uncle met you in one of the funerals where one of your cousins who was an alcoholic died. Of course, no one liked him even when he was alive because used to steal as petty stuffs like cigarettes. But again, it’s death and people aren’t allowed to say, “finally he is dead and we shall now have some peace of mid.” No. That’s not an African way.
Now, you meet your uncle. He tells you that, “that boy never listened to anyone. He was given everything.” You want to say something and then your mom keeps signaling you to remain shut. He goes on with his platitudinal talk as you listen. In the end, he says, please bring me your CV. And that’s the last time you ever saw him again.
Six months down the line and you don’t know where about the big man. So, what do you do? You go to Gumbo Market. You find a woman in Gumbo. She is brown with some big thighs and hands bigger than the Rwanda’s map. She has left behind in Uganda about two boys and a girl (her children). Her business is to sell fruits: imported banana, mangoes, avocados and more. She also does vegetable business in Juba. She has so many contacts. People swam at her stall. She is happy. All she does is making calls here and there and her produces are delivered by bodaboda boys (we shall come to that bodboda part because it’s also part of what we should do) and then life goes on. This woman doesn’t have holiday. Unless when she is sick. Which is rare anyway because poor people don’t easily get serious sickness.
You’re Wani, or Deng, or Gatkuoth. Remember you met your uncle at your cousin’s funeral. He asked for your CV. You delivered but then again, he never got back to you. One evening, your friend asked you to cover up for him because he has some exams to do at the University of Juba. He was going to be busy for weeks because he needs to revise for his final year. And because fate is never bribed, you met this woman that open a new door for you. She asked you to be her delivery boy.
Your job is to wake up before anyone else and make sure you have delivered things before anyone else wake up because you’re co-sharing the machine with your friend. That being done, there are traffic guys on the street. This is what brings us here to this story.
It’s almost a must that all traffic officers ask for something in South Sudan – especially in Juba. It’s almost a must all that every traffic officer asks for either petty stuffs or none existing stuffs in South Sudan. Now here is the thing. If you’re importing cement from Tororo, Uganda or Athi River, Kenya and you want to set up a store in Kuajok, at every check point you pass, you will leave behind some money. Otherwise, you will delay to reach your destination or you will not be allowed to pass. Pardon me if I’m being bias, but I think one of the very many reasons we’re facing basic hardship rest on the shoulders of our big brothers and sisters in white unforms.
It’s really funny enough how these people are also crying how prices of goods are shooting in the market every single day. But again, didn’t you just overcharged or denied a tractor to offload at the trader’s shop without something small? Again, where on earth does our traffic brothers believe that there is a bribe budget dedicated to their office? Secondly, if you can accept the bribe, what do you think will stop your colleagues not to do the same? If you overcharge my imported goods just because you want to take your kids to school then I’m eligible of raising the prices of flour in my store because my kids deserve to go to school too.
If a traffic officer stops me on my way to work and doesn’t explain in details what I did wrong or ask me for a lift politely, then I deserve to erect a billboard advert campaigning for the insurance companies to introduce time wastage policy.
What I’m saying is that, traffic officers are the reason why small businesses fail from all walk of life: boda boda industry, a lucrative industry for young people is almost going to an extinct right now because of high affinity to corruption exercised everyday by the traffic department.
What will annoy you, especially if you’re new in Juba is the fact that you will be forced to pull over to some grown men in Juba that will constantly ask you for a something for water or tea. Of course, as a well raised and new to this, it’s wrong to deny an adult something when they beg you. South Sudanese traffic officers are beggars in white uniforms. Some beg with force. Others beg you politely whilst the rest beg you through ranks and constitutional quotes.
The craziest part of this is when they ask what they don’t even earn. How does a man that earn less than SSP 3000 ask for a SSP 40,000 bribe? The economy is bad and it’s bad on all of us. but who the hell told these government servants that it’s fixed in small cars? After all, a social identity is equated to V8 engine and the biggest influencers are driving such cars. Excuse you but the lunch you ask from Premio owners, Subaru and Nissan Juke drivers, they don’t have kitchens in their cars. Come to Mobil Round about when you have eaten or go and eat in shifts during lunch hour and leave young people alone!