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JUBA/YEI - 25 Mar 2021

Citizens accuse SSPDF of extortion along the Juba-Yei Road

Business people and passengers plying the Juba-Yei road have accused the South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF) of extorting them through unnecessary checkpoints along the road, claims the army denied.

Some of the businessmen who spoke to Radio Tamazuj called on the state and national governments to either reduce or abolish the checkpoints from the border town of Kaya to Yei and from Yei to Juba. 

This comes at the backdrop of an order by the newly appointed governor of Central Equatoria State Emmanuel Adil Wani early this month to remove unauthorized roadblocks along the Yei-Juba road.

"As I move from Yei to Juba I don’t know those checkpoints from Kaya to Yei but we have seen 17 checkpoints from Yei up to Juba which is taking money from each truck and we cannot establish where is the money and who is who, everybody comes asks for money and you must pay some good amount," businessman Joseph Malisi from Yei said.

Appealing to the government, Malisi adds, "We need to ensure that the checkpoints put there are minimal. People manning the checkpoints must be people authorized by the government to know that they are collecting revenue for the government. This will improve the situation of business people."

Peter Deng, a truck driver who uses the road says sometimes they have to part with about 35,000 SSP every time they use the route. 

"Us drivers face a lot of challenges on the road, we have 18 checkpoints along this road and they take a lot of money from trucks, each checkpoint we pay a lot of money. At the first checkpoint, we pay 7,000 SSP, there is yellow paper and other things, At the checkpoint of Mama Nyandeng, we pay 1,000 SSP, Mamur 1,000 SSP, Tiger checkpoint 2,000 SSP, Amadi 3,000 SSP, Ganji 1,200 SSP. All different prices," he explained. 

The South Sudan People's Defence (SSPDF) Spokesperson Santo Dominic, said these are baseless allegations and called on afflicted parties to use the correct channel of communication for a solution to be found.

"This is just an allegation and accusation against the SSPDF, those traders are citizens of South Sudan if there is anything like that then they bring it officially before the attention of the SSPDF instead of using the media as a platform of raising such things," he said. "I look at it as propaganda because a long time ago there was a clear standing order abolishing all the checkpoints along all the roads except for security checkpoints." 

For his part, the Central Equatoria state Minister of Information Paulino Lokudu says that the order issued by the governor was not immediately implemented because local government structures were not completed. 

"Some of the commissioners by then were not appointed so that they will execute those orders. The people who are expected to execute these orders are the ministry of local government and law enforcement and county commissioners," he noted.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Okay Africa Foundation, a civil society organization, Wani Michael has condemned the illegal checkpoints and challenged the governor to use the road to understand the plight of residents.

"These are government soldiers who are on these roads. Driving along Juba-Yei road can cost you over 5,000 SSP and we don’t know where that money goes," he lamented.

Recently, social media was awash with citizens complaining about the numerous checkpoints along the Juba-Yei road despite the order abolishing them.