Cover Story

Much needed reforms in juba’s chaotic Public transport system [Part 1]

By Amargira James Kadanya

A lot has changed ever-since South Sudan gained the right to self determination and sovereignty. From the rapid collapse of the once thriving economy to the immense expansion of various social and basic amenities, of which transport is inclusive.

The public transport system in Juba, the nation’s capital, just like any other sector of significance in the national economy has suffered from a vast number of challenges and issues; ranging from under-developed infrastructure, mal-administration, and insufficient policy regulation and legislation. The above-mentioned issues are just a summative sample of what is really affecting the public transport system first in Juba and more broadly, the whole of South Sudan.

Unearthing solutions to the challenges affecting the transport system nation-wide involves planned, strategic analysis of the whole system, from its components, targeted audience and lastly, the various government-run regulator authorities. Juba as a city is overwhelming to first timers, no matter what part of the world they might have come from. This assumption comes in primarily due to the fact that almost everything along the city’s roads is done in the opposite direction, different from the standard way. Apparently here am referring to the abundance of Right-hand drive (RHD) cars, most being the very ones used as public vans, hence exposing passengers to danger since the exit door lies along the other lane of the road with incoming traffic.

Having had a sneak peak of what to expect of the chaotic public transport system within South Sudan’s biggest city, it is important to look at what means are mostly put into use by the service providers to satisfy their much increasing audience, the general public. The largest number of traffic that makes up the system is mostly the ‘East African’ taxi type of which more than three quarters are RHD, very few of these are designed specifically for our roads here. The secondcategory of vans is slightly larger than the former, owing to the increased numbers of passengers they are capable of shuttling from one place to the other. Am referring to the Toyota costa type, with new Hyundai and Mitsubishi varieties, most importantly, they all serve the same purpose in the long run.

The effects of the dire economic downfall allover South Sudan have been felt deeply by every sector and industry in the country. Following the persistence of the situation, many of the nationals who were still able to survive economically sought for better means to keep themselves afloat. With the current status quo demanding for enhanced economic and fiscal strategy, many citizens identified the transport sector as that of high significance to the extent that many people cannot live without it. This whole scenario has gradually bred a new entrant into the transport sector; the Toyota branded noahs, voxies, regius and others of the less prominent Nissan type.

These new vehicles have come at a time when the transport sector has become of immense importance like never before to city-dwellers in Juba. The contributions they have made in shuttling people to distant areas and suburbs cannot be undermined, but rather appreciated. The last category of components within the transport sector is comprised of motorcycles, commonly known as boda-boda and the Indian-type of tricycles also known as ‘rickshaws’. These are part and parcel of the public transport sector, but are often not considered due to their less prominence when it comes to attracting large numbers which encompasses the public as we know it.

Having looked at all the main components of the public transport system, challenges and issues faced within the sector can be phased out systematically. Most importantly, is the problem of misinterpretation of road and traffic signs, particularly the rule of the road, which requires all motorists to stick to the right side of the road. Proper lane allocation ought to be top agenda of the traffic police and other authorities, in order for all road users to know where exactly to use the road from.

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