OpEd, Politics

Public trust in the Traffic Police is long dead and forgotten

By Taban Gabi

Gone are the days when officers were recruited into the traffic ranks based on their understanding of the police’s efficacy and competence.

Gone are the days when without a traffic fault, cops just wave at drivers minus any sort of interrogation.

We are now in an era of extortion, where traffic police think their salary is paid by motor road users and public.

An era where an officer of the law is ever ready to tussle it the hard way by going physical with a motorist.

A very upsetting state of affairs in our hard-won country walahi!

There is completely no public trust in the traffic police as custodians of the law. The trust is long dead and buried 7 feet underneath.

Thanks to the unethical staffing and recruitment of officers into the ranks of the public institution for road safety.

Most of the officers masquerading as traffic cops are either modified former guerilla fighters or retired cattle troopers, who have opted to pursue new extortion skills.

They are deeply droned in a pool of attitudes and lack approach in as far as handling their role is concerned.

The vilest part of it all is that these folks lack the principle of engagement; they act very rudely as if South Sudan belongs only to those in arms or military gear.

The few professional officers are those trained by the former Khartoum regime, but they are few in number and are outstripped by the veteran gorillas.

In Juba, obtaining only a driving permit and lock book is like obtaining a blackmail license; having only these two documents will make you dance to the tune of the traffic police or the Tabashir (white chalk) as they are widely referred to in Juba Arabic slang.

An encounter I had with one of them (cop) in Juba, depicts a clear picture of what I have stated above, and the real agony motorist are facing on daily bases.

a noble friend James (Not real name) gave me a phone call; as usual, I was quicker to conclude that he wanted us to converge at our usual table of men’s joint.

No, the day was Wednesday, which is against our norms of sitting or converging I murmured to myself before responding to the call.

James sought me to act as a witness for a legal change of ownership agreement he was involved in.

At a neck-breaking speed, I set off from Juba town to Munuki to support my valuable friend.

At first thought, I wanted to use the Red Cross, J1 road then turn right at the Chinese Embassy to escape the ambushed by traffic men at the former Viva Cell headquarter.

However, at the speculation of averting traffic congestion, I turned right from the former Home and Away Hotel to connect to Tongpiny Airport highway through J1.

A few meters from Home and Away Hotel where a barricade has been laid to act as a roundabout, I encountered and got netted by some two malnourish-looking cops.

One of them immediately and boldly without the fear of being crashed by the car, stepped in the middle of the road to fence my car from moving forward; at that moment I realized concession was the only option. So I parked my car at the roadside.

To cut the story short; all the requirements he asked of me were available except the factory-tainted glass permit. Because of that, he charged me SSP5000 which I didn’t have.

In the process of removing the only SSP 2,000 from my purse, the officer got a glimpse of the USD 100 note in my wallet.

His tone immediately changed and in a harsh vein, he be like; “Where is your driving test permit, why are you in open shoe, where did you acquire your fire extinguisher from? Among other interrogations.

The only lie I gave which is also the commonest liberation lies folks employ in Juba to avert harassment, was that my brother who is a General in SSPDF and owner of the car, send me to change for him the money. So if he insists on wasting my time, I will have no option but to call the big man.

And that was how the fella grabbed the SSP 2,000 from my hand without a word, he handed back to me my car credentials as he continued talking to his partner in crime in his native language.

This is just one example of the tribulations motorist go through in the hands of the self-proclaimed custodian of the law.

But the naked truth is, owning a car or any other sort of moving motor in South Sudan, is like committing the most grievous fault against the civil force of the state or what is commonly referred to as “men in uniform.”

During the daytime, the traffic police with their secondary school uniform (black and white colors) suffocate and frustrate motorists with countless demands. While at night the Joint operation forces conducting security checks have turned the mission into an extortion occupation

In summary, in Juba, one can’t drive at will with only a driving license, you must possess another support document.

This is completely uncalled for! The traffic police boss (Director) should come to the aid of motorists by disciplining some of these officers or deploying them in the States where discipline is regarded as secondary. South Sudanese are tired!!

This constitutes some serious human rights violations, abuse of power, and perhaps one of the most certified reasons blood pressure is common among South Sudanese men and women.

Taban Gabriel is a freelance journalist; for any query about the article, he can be reached on the email address; Gabronn2014@gmail.com





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