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Why newly tarmacked Yei road is a curse to children of Juba

Author: Woja Emmanuel | Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

PHOTO: Custom market - NSS road along Yei road in Juba | Credit Eye Radio/March 2019

A four-year-old boy died on Monday evening after being knocked down by a speeding car along the newly tarmacked Yei road in Juba.

A Range-rover crashed into the little boy as he was trying to cross the road on his way home.

Innocent Bilal died instantly from a broken skull and other bodily injuries.

The incident happened a few meters away from the National Security headquarters along the busy road that connects Customs to Jebel Market.

Several homes are situated along the road which is frequented by motorists, pedestrians and animals.

This is the second deadly incident involving a child since the completion of construction of the road.

An eye witness told Eye Radio that the little boy was crossing the road with friends when the happened.

“They were 3 children coming from the other side of the road and the distance was far for them to cross to this side, but the 2 decided to cross and one was left behind after he saw the car coming. But as soon as he tried to go back, the speeding car intercepted and rammed into him,” Moses Yengi said.

The driver of the Range-rover was arrested.

Bilal was in baby-class at Dreamland Nursery School in Juba.

A 7-year-old pupil was also killed on this same road a week ago while trying to cross it.

The accident has raised serious concerns regarding the safety of pedestrians and precautions applied by motorists are they use the smoothen road.

People living nearby say motorists’ drive on high speed on the new tarmac regardless of children or elderly people crossing.

The traffic law demands that the driver give right of way to children, the elderly, people with disability, and animals whenever they use the road.

It also cautions drivers from over speeding or overtaking on busy roads such as the Custom – Yei road.

Since the tarmacking of the Yei road, the ABMC Company failed to include speed bumps or Zebra crossing on the less than 2-kilometer road.

Khalid Bilal, a relative to the late Bilal said the absence of speedbumps also partially contributed to the fatal accident.

He said the major roads do not have sign-posts or stop signs to caution motorists from over speeding.

“These tarmac is now bringing death to the people. There is a need for something to reduce the speed of the cars so that they don’t drive beyond the required limit,” he said.

Most roads in Juba passes along residential areas, with shops and schools constructed nearby.

Both pedestrians and motorists do not pay attention to Zebra crossing, although most roads do not have pedestrian crossings or sidewalks or pathways or footpaths.

Researches show that distracted driving is the most common cause of road accidents in Juba.

It says drivers can become distracted behind the wheel for a variety of reasons including; speaking on phone, chatting with a passenger, gazing through the roadside rather than straight-forward.

It also says drunk driving and overconfidence in the driver’s driving skills are other major causes of accidents.

David Bilal is the brother of the 4-year-old Innocent Bilal who was killed on Monday evening.

He agrees that most drivers plying this road do not care about the safety of all pedestrians –let alone children.

“Someone drives in very high speed and they don’t know someone ahead of them. You will find a child wants to cross the road, but the car will not give way, they just drive recklessly,” he said.

“Those driving are supposed to show sympathy to the pedestrians crossing because such things are not good.”

Five years ago, the Juba City Council installed traffic lights on the major roundabouts and marked Zebra crossing areas.

The City Council passed traffic laws to regulate the movement of the motorists in Juba town.

These include a fine for leaning on a traffic light post and for parking near it.

But these lights have since gone defunct and the Zebra lines have been washed out by rain and the tires of vehicles.

More than 60 solar-powered traffic lights at 50 road intersections across Juba were vandalized.

Meanwhile, it has been noted that most people in the city learned to drive from unofficial driving schools.

Majority of those driving are said to have received less 72 hours lessons at football fields near Giada and Medan Rambo in Juba.

This means these drivers are not familiar with the road signs, in other words, lack of road safety education remains a challenge.

Moses Yengi urged drivers to learn safety and precaution before embarking on using public roads.

“Our road is not secure…all the time school children are crossing and others are crossing to the shops… so the drivers need to be careful with the children and also with the elderly,” he asserted.

In 2011, the national parliament passed the South Sudan Road Traffic bill, which is vaguely known to the public.

The lack of awareness and enforcement of these traffic rules and regulations has contributed to ignorance of road usage by motorists and pedestrians.

Monday Esther, a resident of Mauna, Nyakuron area in Juba said parents or guardians also bare responsibility for the safety of the children.

She said children should not be allowed to cross the busy roads without an elderly person accompanying them.

“Mothers should be careful because this tarmac road is claiming the lives of our children. The drivers and the boda-boda riders should stop and give way when children are crossing,” Esther said.

“The government should also come and inspect the kind of work that has been done here so that we protect our children.”

A road traffic accident is defined as an accident which takes place on the road between two or more objects, one of which must be any kind of a moving motor vehicle.

It is estimated that 3,000 people die and 30,000 are seriously injured in the world every day with the majority of casualties coming from middle-income countries.

In South Sudan, a comprehensive safety system is needed to promote community-based awareness of traffic rules and safety regulations.

For now, the newly tarmacked Nyakuron – Yei road heading towards the national security headquarters requires speed bumps and pedestrian crossing, to prevent more children and adults from falling victim to speeding motorists.

Drivers are also asked to drive with caution and pay special attention to other road users along the roads in Juba.

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