Topical Commentary

By Paul Jimbo

Allow me to express my feelings through this opinion in regard to the on-going lunacy of all sorts on the Juba-Nimule Road.

I must also indicate here that for the second time, I have had an opportunity to travel on the road, at-least for the first time since it was tarmacked not more than eight years ago.

It should be noted that the more than 140 miles stretch of road is the major route connecting South Sudan to her East African neighbours.

The road currently in its sorry state is a mere shadow of its former self.

The fact that South Sudan is a land-locked country is itself enough reason to confirm the route’s significance when it comes to trade or exchange of goods and services and movement of people across the borders.

Furthermore landlocked countries like South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi share a common factor; they have to literally rely on their neighbouring port countries to enjoy imports from oversee, especially bulky consignments.

All these drive me back to the reason I have chosen to focus attention on the significant role the Juba-Nimule Road plays in cross border trades and bilateral ties and the madness witnessed on the road.

To hit the nail on the head, the road is in a dilapidated state, nearly a third of it is ripped off and one would be tempted to think it bears decades-old testimonies of existence yet it’s barely a decade old. The road is almost being declared a murram road at this rate of depletion.

This already confirms that someone somewhere did a shoddy job or slept on the job.

I have seen and used roads that have stood the tests of the times to go down memory lanes as some of the, longest surviving roads in the world.

Some of them manage heavier traffic than the Juba-Nimule Road yet they have never been scared or shaken by anything, not even extreme weather conditions.

However it is a pity that today, we are a laughing stock because the road has failed to stand the test of the time. These are high chances that it might not leave to complete another half a decade before it resumes its previous state.

I mean, if due diligence is not done, then Juba-Nimule Road will be a pale shadow of itself and we will blame ourselves as a people who failed to correct ills in our society.

Despite boasting as the country’s busiest route or highway, its daily traffic data is way below some of the lonely or underused highways across the borders.

This means traffic statistics should not be any closer justification to the road’s pathetic situation.

Something needs to be done to urgently fix the road failure of which we stand to lose big time.

The compounding and every multiplying number of potholes on the road have secretly conspired with evident economic hardships in the country to pave way for erection of multiple security check-points.

Though I have nothing with screening and check-points, they are well intended to ensure our security as a country.

My beef is all about handling of the check-points. Some characters have converted the check-points into unlicensed or illegal toll stations.

They way lay their unsuspecting preys by erecting boulders, barriers and all manner of roadblocks, all in the name of security checks and screening.

They literally extort money from gullible and unsuspecting travellers and motorists by unleashing venom-like bitterness laced with threats to ensure their victims feel the disarmed completely.

They use all manner of threats including detention and delays in travel if their targets do not comply or cave in to their demands.

There is quick money out of fabricated offences borne out of greed to get-rich quickly theory.

This cartel operates at-least five illegal check-points and has successfully created their own loyal list of vulnerable commuters and motorists from whom they reap where they do not sow.

Besides the road-blocks are children, some below 10 years who cash on the deplorable road’s status to earn a living.

They pretend to be filling the death-trap potholes, some carrying sand and soil and literally plead for money from frustrated motorists who have to contend with the poor road situation.

A motorist would rather throw a few pounds to the children who risk their lives standing carelessly on the roads than bear the huge costs of out-parts.

It is high time we fix the road and get these children out of the death trap.

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