By Jacob K. Lupai
August 8, 2012 (SSNA) — Juba is a metropolis that is rapidly expanding, something unseen of during the tumultuous years of Arab colonialism and brutal occupation. Thanks to the heroic people of South Sudan who chose freedom rather than refined slavery in shackles. Refined slavery can be defined as being well fed and paid but no freedom of choice and under control as in a cage or in a cell. The Arabs decided how South Sudan should have been underdeveloped as unwritten policy so that South Sudan could have become totally dependent on Arab benevolence which was hardly forthcoming.
With independence from Arab colonialism and the brutal occupation, Juba metropolis is now awash with unprecedented development projects. For example, road network is being modernized with Juba seeing tarmac roads expanding to and connecting residential areas and government establishments. Life on roads in Juba is becoming enjoyable with pothole roads becoming something of the past but occasional traffic jams cause some inconvenience. In addition to traffic jams erection of road blocks is another unnecessary cause of inconvenience to motorists.
The essence of road blocks
Road blocks are erected for a number of reasons. Road maintenance or repairs may cause road blocks to be erected. Security consideration may be another reason for road blocks when a volatile situation is to be brought under control. Road blocks can also be used to allow the flow of traffic to a predetermined direction as when there is a marathon in the town. There are temporary and semi-permanent road blocks.
On Juba roads temporary and semi-permanent road blocks are evident. For example, temporary road blocks are when the President of the Republic of South Sudan is soon to be on the road moving from his residence to a location or when the President is returning from a foreign visit. It may take from a couple of minutes to hours that traffic comes to a standstill.
Examples of semi-permanent road blocks are like the ones on the roads from Home and Away Business Centre to the roads east and west of J1. However, the road blocks are in such a way that traffic can filter through although with some careful negotiation that obviously slows down the flow of traffic which is probably the reason for the road blocks in the first place.
Road blocks inconveniences
I was caught up in road blocks that spoiled my day on the 30th July 2012, the Martyrs Day. According to the invitation carded extended to me the program showed that public arrival was between 11.30 and 12.00 while arrival of VIPs was between 12.00 and 12.30. I chose to arrive at Dr John Garang’s Mausoleum between 12.00 and 12.30 to celebrate the 7th Anniversary of Martyrs Day. I started off from my house taking the dual carriage way between Juba International Airport and the Ministries. At one junction on the dual carriage way north of J1 there was a road block that lasted not less than 30 minutes. After a long wait police siren blared out, signaling that a VIP was on the road with a fleet of black cars racing past. We were given clearance to move on.
At Kololo junction there was a road block and we were directed southward towards the junction near the SPLM offices. At the junction on the dual carriage way leading to the National Assembly there was also a road block. We were then forced to return to Kololo junction to take the east bound carriage way to turn right onto the road leading to Beijing hotel. At the top of the road near Buluk Police Training Centre there was again another road block. We were again forced back to join the Ministries-Juba International Airport dual carriage way east bound to turn right onto the road west of J1 negotiating through the semi-permanent road blocks in order to join the main road from the town centre west bound to the National Assembly.
At the junction at Buluk Police training Centre there was a road block which meant people had to drive down between Madam Nyandeng residence and Buluk Police Training Centre and then round to the west to join the Juba University- Buluk Police Training Centre main tarmac road. At the Juba University roundabout there was a road block too where people were either forced to drive back to where they started their journey, to turn towards At labara or to proceed to the army barracks ahead as there was no way to proceed to Dr John Garang’s Mausoleum to celebrate the 7th Anniversary of the Martyrs Day.
After exhausting every effort but in vain to celebrate the 7th Anniversary of the Martyrs Day at Dr John Garang’s Mausoleum, I had enough. May be I could have chosen to arrive between 11.30 and 12.00 because the program was more or less misleading. The Martyrs Day is an important occasion to remember the sacrifices made for freedom and a sign that people are vowing never ever again to be a slave of anyone.
Road blocks are nothing but unnecessary inconveniences that could have been avoided. One remarkable observation, though, was that the soldiers maintaining the road blocks were polite but firm. Previously soldiers in a similar situation would shout out orders with threatening looks. On that occasion they simply pointed to where the traffic should be flowing. This is a commendable progress in army-civilian relations.
The current system of road blocks is unnecessary. The advanced police siren is enough for motorists to give way to the President motorcade. Why block the roads for hours on end leaving people to lose business and to curse. When the President is using one road why block the other roads. I never saw road blocks when the late Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, was being driven in Addis Ababa. I have never seen road blocks all over London whenever the British Prime Minister is being driven or anywhere in towns in Britain. I wonder what is so unique here.
When the President is using one road why should the other roads be blocked. Is it really necessary? Presumably it may be due to security concerns. However, with good intelligence things can be sorted out to minimize inconveniences to motorists in particular and to the public in general who in most cases may love their President.
In conclusion, road blocks cause unnecessary inconveniences that should be avoided because of frustrations caused and why block all roads when only one road is needed through which the President passes.
The author can be reached at [email protected]