Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Vehicle registration and tents

Yesterday and today in Juba the traffic police went around ticketing everyone that had 'NS' license plates as opposed to 'SSC' license plates. The deal is that originally when the gov't was set up they made everyone register their vehicles. Fine. No problems. Then each state wanted to have their own number plates (wouldn't you? great way to make money) so you started seeing cars registered with 'SSC' for the capital (Juba), 'CE' for Central Equitoria, 'WE' for Western Equitoria and so on. But none of this was required. Now, a week and a half ago, they decided to make it a requirement for everyone to have state plates.

Apparently either a) the traffic police hadn't received their salaries for the month of May, or b) the officials in charge of the Ministry of Transportation decided they needed to build a new mansion, because they thought that it was time to stop vehicles on the road, fine them (with a receipt that says it is from Jonglei state even though we're in Central Equitoria), and require them to pay $700 USD to re-register each vehicle with the state. Apparently a week and a half was sufficient time for the state to communicate this fact as well as register and change every single vehicle over to their plates.

We have 6 vehicles, so that's $4,200. I know another organization that has 16 vehicles, so that's $11,200. And I'm sure that there are companies and organizations that have more than that. So that means millions of dollars are going to be pouring into the Ministry, and thousands more into the pockets of the police who "fine" the vehicles as well as giving them an official ticket. Yet another reason why Juba is becoming yet another typical, awful, East African city.

The other main reason Juba is becoming yet another awful, typical, East African city is the rise in armed robberies. The past several months groups of men, some in uniform some not, all armed with AK 47s, have been targeting NGO and UN compounds asking for the Khawajas (white people) and demanding money, computers, satelite phones, etc. There have been over 30 attempted/actual robberies, but luckily no one has gotten killed, just intimidated and in a few cases hit. This NEVER used to happen here - it was a sleepy, dusty town. But now it has grown exponentially and with it comes crime.

I was supposed to move into a house but 2 days before I was to move in there were a string of attempted break-ins 2 blocks down. So I am no longer allowed to live there, so instead I moved out to the equivalent of the suburbs and am living in my very own, spacious and airy TENT! I LOVE my tent. It's huge, one of those big platform green ones, with 2 - count them - 2 rooms, a queen sized bed, and a view of the hills. I now wake up to the sun rising and birds chirping, having tea on the veranda instead of dust, loud music blaring, sweltering heat, and traffic. And the security is good with armed SPLA soldiers and an electric fence. Plus is doesn't hurt that Simba is the manager there and runs the operations of the site. No, we're not living together, and no, I'm not getting a special discount. Get your minds out of the gutter, people! But overall I'm definitely safer (and happier!) than in town.

So that means you will be getting much happier blogs from Petunia in the future.

And CONGRATULATIONS MONICA AND KEIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My Beatrice and her Beau were married May 31st in St. Louis, MO. I am completely bummed I couldn't be there for them on such an important day, but will be visiting them in the UK in August. It's something that's part of this career - having friends all over the world, but missing out on a lot of the important stuff.


1 comment:

PlumFace said...

I did see this post when you first put it up, but I forgot to thank you for the awesome shout out! We missed you at the big wedding shebang too, Beatrice, but at least I get to see you soon!