Government employees say they are struggling to cope with the skyrocketing prices of commodities despite receiving salary increases.
Moses Chandok, a 27-year-old police officer, collapsed in a Juba market this week. Chandok told VOA's South Sudan in Focus that he had not eaten a proper meal for some days.
"When the sun hit my face, my eyes become black, and I see everything around me spinning. So I set off on foot with my wife to see the doctor to know if this is malaria or what. We don’t have enough to eat. My wife only cooks when there is something," Chandok said.
Bystanders contributed money to pay for a rickshaw that rushed him to Juba Teaching Hospital. Chandok said his family has gone for days without food because he doesn't make enough money as a police officer.
"A regimental sergeant major receives 6,000 South Sudanese pounds (SSP). Whenever I receive this money in a month, it is hard to buy a small bag of maize flour which [costs] 6,500 SSP. So the only way is to get some cups of flour and use remaining [money] to buy water. When I am in good health, I always find some places to do manual work," Chandok told VOA.
Major General Daniel Justin, spokesperson for the South Sudan National Police Service, said all members of the organized forces face similar hardships.
"That policeman is not him alone. All over is the same situation and other. I don’t know how they are managing it. People are looking for other sources of supplementing what they are getting from the government," Justin said.
South Sudan’s Minister of Information Michael Makuei said salary increases are being carried out in phases.
"If you want to hear about the 100% increase, it was implemented for the lower classes. The middle class and the higher class were not affected. The new salary structure is in the process," Makuei told VOA.
Benard Ladu, head teacher at Gumbo Basic Primary School in Juba, said he saw the new salary structure reflected in his salary twice, but the amount does not cover higher food prices.
"In the former years, I was having 3,500 [SSP]. When it is multiplied by two, 7,000 net. When you see, that is 100%. After a few months in November, my money increased to 23,000. It is not equivalent to the market. Twenty-three thousand cannot do anything. I only serve because of my patriotisms of helping my country," Ladu said.
Ladu says he grows vegetables which his wife sells in the market to help pay school fees and other basic expenses.
Sadia Poni, an employee of the education ministry, says some civil servants are "starving."
"Most of us have died; our children are unable to go to school. We are unable to support to them to higher level of education due to a low level of salary with the government. We are even unable to construct good house to sleep in. We are sleeping in tukuls," Poni told VOA.
She said one of her colleagues recently died from excessive drinking after he was unable to care for his family.
Last year, civil servants went unpaid for months when the government ran out of funds.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.