Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 8 October 2014

Police, motorists responsible for Juba road carnage

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By Alfred Geri

October 7, 2014 - In recent times, global rankings have consistently cast a negative image on South Sudan which generally attains dismal scores in such areas as educational attainment, health indicators as well as in democracy and good governance. Last year the country was rated as a “failed state,” much to the annoyance of the government.

Just last week, it was ranked as one of the least peaceful nations in the world by the Global Peace Index. It was ranked 160th of 162 countries on account of its low level of security and safety, extent of domestic conflict and high degree of militarisation. Whether or not such rankings are credible, it’s almost a truism that the young nation still faces numerous challenges in its desired quest for a rapid socio-economic and political development. Cattle rustling, interethnic conflicts and political instability in many parts have tended to impede government efforts to deliver services and put in place the necessary infrastructure such as roads and electric power.

It would be foolhardy to expect South Sudan, a country that became independent from its northern neighbour only three years ago, to enjoy coveted rankings as the United States of America or the Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands. These countries became independent centuries ago and have become stable over time, having overcome many obstacles holding them back from socio-economic and political development.

However, the frequent road carnage in the South Sudanese capital city of Juba is a point of grave concern. Daily, irrespective of which road one uses, there is usually a fatal motor accident involving either commercial motorbike riders commonly referred to as boda-boda or impatient drivers trying to overtake the cars in front of them. Usually, though, it seems that the heavy casualty toll is on the boda-boda riders who appear to compete with other motorists along the narrow-lane and pothole riddled roads in and around the burgeoning city of Juba. In fact, it’s usually hard for pedestrians to cross the roads during the busy morning or evening hours. Scores of unsuspecting pedestrians have been knocked down, often by careless boda-boda riders desperately sneaking their way between the cars!

But who is responsible for the road carnage in Juba? The answer to this question might depend on who you ask, but it seems all very clear that the motorists are not solely to blame for the spate of bloody road accidents in the city. Granted, they could bear much of the blame: while some drive under the influence of alcohol, others are utterly reckless and ignorant of the mechanic conditions of their vehicles or motorbikes. Incessant hooting, often with no clear reason, is an irritating habit practised by many motorists (drivers and boda-boda riders). Such deafening hooting can potentially cause accident, especially if one is “fainthearted.”

Road safety, in every country, should be the concern of all. The traffic police, mandated to ensure smooth movement of motorists and pedestrians, seem to assume the most responsibility for keeping road safety. In Juba, where there are still no traffic lights installed, it is the work of traffic police to direct motorists almost all day. Most especially, a group of up to five traffic police officers are stationed at road junctions to give directions to motorists by allowing some to move while stopping others – the idea being to enable a smooth flow by ensuring that no traffic jam is created at such road junctions.

While the traffic police officers have tried their level best to regulate the flow of traffic on the roads within the city, it seems unfortunately clear that they are mostly concerned with the big trucks such as the “Water Tankers,” “Sewage tankers” and those ferrying heavy merchandise such as timber and cement. The reason seems clearly obvious: demand “something small for water,” even when there is no offense. Errant drivers of government vehicles are usually left to run loose as if the traffic rules do not apply to them!

It would be helpful for the traffic police officers to come out and sensitise motorists on good driving practices in order to reduce the rate of road accidents in the country. For instance, some motorists succumb to fatal road accident simply because of wrong overtaking. What have the traffic police officers done to ensure that motorists know how and when to overtake fellow motorists? How much effort have the police made to curb the annoyingly incessant hooting heard throughout the day in and around Juba? In fact, police personnel are themselves usually reckless when driving!

Until and unless the traffic police exert much effort in sensitising motorists and the general public about road safety, fatal road accidents along our roads will continue to claim hundreds of otherwise innocent lives. They could use the media to carry out road safety sensitisation campaigns to increase public awareness. Irresponsible and reckless motorists could have their driving licenses revoked and given reasonable jail sentences besides fines in order to improve good driving standards. The traffic police department should publish traffic-related offences so that members of the general public are kept aware of the progress being made in the area of road safety across the country.

The author can be reached via algeri2003@yahoo.com



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  • 8 October 2014 16:30, by Madut Tong

    Geri,
    I congratulate you for having articulate well the road issues in Juba. however, everybody is to be blame for their impatient in using the road. then, other blame should go to the way traffic police officers are recruited, many of them do not know the traffic laws. thirdly, the careless military vehicles, govt. vehicles and the rest of the people holding high positions in the country who...

    repondre message

  • 8 October 2014 16:35, by Madut Tong

    consider themselves to be above the law are really the heart of the problems in South Sudan. and to solve this issue, there must be a clear traffic laws in the Country, recruitment and training of our young people to do this great job. and subjection of any govt. official, generals and any other powerful personnel to the rule of law. otherwise, we will grievously fail the nation.

    repondre message



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