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Travelers accuse soldiers deployed to WES roads of extortion

Author: Alhadi Hawari | Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Illegal roadblocks manned by men in uniform are common across South Sudan. (-)

The government of Western Equatoria State pledged to address the alleged extortion of money from travellers by soldiers deployed along Juba-Mundri, according to spokesperson Digi Alex.

The response comes after a concerned citizen posted online an open letter to the governors of Central and Western Equatoria states expressing concerns over what they called the excessive number of roadblocks by soldiers.

The letter stated that the soldiers have been collecting money from road users without providing official receipts- something the locals say raises concerns about transparency, accountability, and potential corruption.

The move, according to the letter, is also causing inconvenience, delays, and frustration for commuters and businesses alike.

The letter called on the government to implement a system that collects fees or taxes through official channels that would not only streamline the process but also provide a clear record of transactions.

They urged that unnecessary roadblocks be eliminated, and officers trained to exercise professionalism and courtesy during their interactions with road users.

 

In response,  the press secretary of the Western Equatoria State governor Alex Digi said the governor confirmed the deployment of forces along the road.

He clarified that the deployment was to protect the road users and their properties, but not to collect taxes.

“The governor of Western Equatoria has welcomed the concern of the citizens that they raised concerning the roadblock from Yambio to Juba.

“For sure, there’s a lot of deployment of the soldiers on the road based on security purposes because we used to have a lot of security issues. So, we wanted to make sure that the soldiers are deployed to every corner to protect the road, the citizens and their property as well as the country.

When those soldiers are deployed in those areas were not deployed purposely for collection of any tax, but they are there to protect the citizens,” he said.

Digi said since the concerns raised have reached the office, the governor will look into the matter.

“As the concerns have reached the office, the governor of Western Equatoria will look into it and see how the road can be free for the passengers.” 

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