Traffic officers accused of harassment
By Sasuk Taban
Traffic police officers in Juba have been accused by motorists of harassment when executing their duties on the streets, a civil society activist said.
Speaking to Juba Monitor yesterday, Jame Kolok, the Executive Director of Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) said motorists have continued to complain to the civil society over harassment by traffic officers. He said the traffic police officers ask for fines without clearly stating the offence.
He added that the problem in the country is how orders are executed and it is more of a jungle law process.
“The moment a traffic officer stops you on the road and your permit is not changed, you are asked to pay a fine. I believe as a government, the public should be notified and time given to the public to renew their old licenses to the new standardized ones,” Kolok said.
He further said that as a country we should not formulate a new law today and execute it today. The country is facing a lot of challenges; people cannot afford basic necessities, he added.
Kolok urged the government to effect the changes of permits when a motorist or cyclist goes to renew their permits.
“The government should give ample time for people to look for money to renew their permits. Some traffic officers want to use these changes to extort money from motorists,” he said.
Brigadier General Daniel Justin, the Police Spokesperson said they are standardizing the driving license such that it is in line with the new standard in the country.
He added that when the announcement was made a week ago by the Senior Traffic Police officers, they had given a grace period of one week for people to renew their driving licenses free of charge but now that the grace period is over, people will be forced to pay a fee as renewal charges.
“The old driving licenses had certain things that could be forged but the new licenses which are standardized cannot be forged,” Justin said.
He however criticized the civil population for not reporting harassments by traffic officers to the police.
“Motorists should not pay money to officers without a receipt. If they do not agree with the fine, they should ask the officer to direct them to their supervisor or go to the police station and pay there,” he said.
The Police spokesman said that drivers found paying money to officers without asking for a receipt shall be arrested.
Rajab Mohandis, the Executive Director of South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (SSuNDE) said that motorists have continued to complain about traffic police harassment.
“Traffic officers especially in Juba are harassing motorists on the road. They stop people and charge them without any explanation and the charges are so high that people cannot afford,” Mohandis said.
Kolok further called on the government to develop name tags for the security organs in the country such that it makes it easier for the public to identify and report officers who harass them.