Discipline rogue security officers extorting travelers

Discipline rogue security officers extorting travelers
Juba – Nimule Highway (photo credit: File)

In every country, police officers are expected to portray the image of the country because they are the custodians of enforcing law and order.

This is also because they interact with different people during their working hours. They serve the citizens, foreigners, and other visitors arriving in the country.

In their service, they are expected to be well-behaved. This behavior should encompass honesty, self-integrity, and friendliness to whoever is in need of help. 

Authorities on several occasions have warned police officers against corruption and extorting money from the citizens. Even recently the Deputy Inspector General of Police Lt. Gen James Pui Yak had warned police officers against extorting money from the citizens.

Gen. James urged those officers serving at the nationality and passport cards to treat every citizen equally.

Most people who go to process their national ID have accused police officers of taking bribes, discrimination, and unfair treatment of applicants.

Rampant corruption

Apart from workplaces, some police officers especially in the traffic department have taken   corruption to the streets as they extort money from the drivers and night travelers 

Last Saturday, the Director-General of Traffic Police Maj. Gen. Kon John Akot urged the police officers in the country to work within their directive according to South Sudan law.

He said the police officers were only allowed to check documents and facilitate easy movement of vehicles and cargoes.

He said traffic officers are to focus on maintaining traffic safety and efficiency on the roads which can include directing traffic, managing accidents, administering federal traffic money, and educating the public on laws and safety guidelines.

Unfortunately, the majority of the traffic police and other organized forces put on the streets have taken their duty stations for collecting money illegally from travelers.

Some of these officers assign themselves to very strategic places where they find it easy to extort money from the drivers and the majority of those checkpoints are located in the outskirts of Juba along the roads of Kator-Gumbo-Shirkat road, and Konyo Konyo-Custom.

While police stop points within the vicinity of the city seemingly focus mainly on the foreign drivers either with or without documents, they have forgotten their main duty which is to maintain traffic safety and efficiency on the roads.

It looks very shameful to see an officer directing traffic on the road collecting money from the drivers. It is true that administering federal traffic money is one of their duties but the collection of the money cannot be conducted on the roads.

They are not supposed to collect money from the drivers on the streets it is being the case here that has portrayed a bad image of the country to the visitors.

Sometimes you doubt whether the money being collected will reach the public account as they are paid without the issuance of any receipt to show such amount has been collected.

They often collect any amount be it SSP 100, 500, or 1000 and you clearly understand that it is not taken anywhere nor will they remit to their head offices.

And earlier this week, about 18 security officers were arrested for extorting drivers along Juba – Nimule Road. The customs police said they will face the wrath of the law.

This should not be a mere public relations stance. It must be addressed and the public must know the kind of punishment prescribed to the people who have, for quite a long time, taken money from travelers; illegally.

It should not end with the Juba – Nimule Highway scenario. There are several illegal roadblocks erected across major roads within the country, including Juba – Yei Road.

If sanity is to be restored along those roads, security officers who erect illegal roadblocks must be disciplined by their superiors.