By Denis Morris Mimbugbe
Speaking to Sama FM from Yambio, Mayor of Yambio Municipality John Singira said the motorcyclists wanted to charge their customer’s ssp 300 instead of ssp 200 as it was to Masiya Market for example.
“Their complaint was that they wanted the government to increase the rate of transport from one place to another. Like in the central market Masiya, they wanted it to be ssp 300 instead of ssp 200. From central market to Jonglomidiya let it be ssp 600 instead of ssp 400. We tried to ask them about the reason for their demands as increase in transport rates would not favour our local community.” John Singira said.
“They told us the charges of traffic police for obtaining motorcycle license were too much,” he added.
Mayor John Singira said he questioned the motorcyclists why they could not approach his office before resorting to strike but they said they were following the issue through the Bodaboda Association in Yambio and Chamber of Commerce to approve the new transport rates as prices for spare parts have gone high but the Chamber of Commerce turned down their appeal.
The misunderstanding between Chamber of Commerce and the Bodaboda Motorcyclists has prompted the Mayor of Yambio Municipality to suspend the operation of motorcyclists for three days.
“They cannot resume because it was like a strike against the government and we cannot tolerate them to start before we resolve the issue. I told the representative of their chairperson and the secretary,” Mayor Singira said.
“I told the security organs to arrest them. Let them go out and inform their colleagues. What they did was not according to the legal procedure,” he stressed.
“They have their rights but the way they handled their rights was not good. Their motorcycles cannot move today. I give them three (03) days to resolve the issue before they resume their normal duty,” Yambio Mayor emphasized.
Mayor John Singira warned that any bodaboda rider seen on the streets before the resolution of the strike within three days would be arrested.
“When this strike started, it was like a demonstration against the government which we did not know. Their motorcycles were not on the streets and they came out on the streets shouting and what they were celebrating was not known. Even the security organs did not know what was going on,” he said.
He said he had directed the security organs to release the four bodaboda riders who had been arrested for staging a demonstration.
The strike of bodaboda riders has offset many citizens who often use motorcycles for transport to offices, markets and other businesses.
“I have resorted to move on foot because the bodaboda riders are on strike,” one bodaboda customer said.
“I work with Worrior Security Company. Movement to my place of work is now very hard. I would like to appeal to the authorities to allow the bodaboda riders to increase rates of transport for their customers because prices for spare parts are high. Fuel prices are also very high in Yambio,” she said.
One of the bodaboda riders William Kango said increase in licensing of motorcycles has prompted motorcyclists to stage a strike.
“The cost of number plate has increased from ssp 10,000 which was affordable to us,” he said.
They managed to raise it to ssp 21,000. Not taking even three months, they have raised it to ssp 31,000. Even the government employees are not getting this money. How does it increase? Who is there to cater for all people’s needs? Why is it that the government has increased the amount for license especially the Directorate of Traffic Police in Western Equatoria State? Why have they increased the amount of ssp 21,000 to the amount of ssp 31,000? How do we get this money? William pondered.
“So as a result we managed to lay down our tools (machines) and we have seen people are crying and we have seen what is happening?” he emphasized.
“But our demonstration is peaceful and we will not resume until the issue is resolved,” William Kango emphasized.
The bodaboda riders also attributed their demonstration to harassment by traffic police.
“The Traffic Police are harassing us on the ground. Recently it happened that a woman was bleeding. She delivered at home. A normal person took this woman to hospital. Just reaching at the Traffic Police Office, the Traffic Police took off the woman from motorcycle that he should produce the legal documents for his motorcycle but it was crucial. He was rushing this woman to hospital,” William said.
“Even they are not following Traffic rule which says you need to talk to the person in an amicable way. Recently one of our bodaboda boys managed to exchange blows with one of the Traffic Officers at the Bump in Yambio Central Market,” William said.
“They are not looking at the bodaboda riders as people delivering services to the local people and the government,” he added.
Traffic Police Director in Western Equatoria State Colonel Santo Ginana said the Traffic Police Office is implementing directives from the National Government in Juba.
“We always implement directives from Juba. In December 2020, directives came from Juba where a number plate for private motorcycles cost ssp 21,250 and number plate for commercial motorcycles cost ssp 22,250. I showed them all these in a meeting. They saw with all these documents with their own eyes,” Col. Ginana said.
“I also handed the directives to the State Governor,” he added.
He said they had been working without any problems since last year with all drivers and bodaboda riders.
“This morning before I could reach the office, I heard that bodaboda riders had gone on strike. When I reached the office, I met the Commissioner of Police in Western Equatoria State, the Head of National Security and CID, we found out that bodaboda riders wanted to increase rates of transport for their customers because prices for spare parts are high, fuel is expensive and number plate is also expensive,” Col. Santo said.
“In the meeting, we as a government, we came to a resolution that the government has no power to intervene in the prices for commodities in the market because traders can adjust prices for commodities,” he said.
“If the bodaboda riders want to raise their transport rates to ssp 500 that will depend on them. So they can increase the transport rates and they can also reduce the rates of transport,” he said.
Colonel Santo said he could not increase or reduce prices for motorcycle licenses as the amount is always fixed by National Government in Juba.
“I work with directives from Juba. Sincerely speaking I cannot increase prices for number plates or reduce prices for number plates. We are working with the rates fixed in December 2020. For example, private driving license for South Sudanese nationals is ssp 22,000, commercial driving license costs ssp 23,000 and then foreign nationals pay $100 US dollars. These are the figures we work with,” Col. Santo Ginana said.