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Juba Mayor Encourages Traders to Report Corrupt Officials

FILE - A map of Juba, South Sudan.
FILE - A map of Juba, South Sudan.

The Juba city mayor in South Sudan urged traders to report corrupt City Council officials involved in collecting illegal taxes while addressing a conference over the weekend.

Speaking to traders at a gathering organized by the Juba City Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Michael Lado Ali-Jabu said any trader who pays illegal fees to Juba City Council officials encourages corruption in South Sudan.

Ali-Jabu urged traders to report corrupt tax collectors directly to his office.

"Most of what is happening, I am not aware about these things because whenever it happens you endorse them, you even put a stamp of approval. I am saying if someone issues you a receipt like this then he writes at the back of the receipt some figures and tells you he will come and collect it later, why do you accept that?" Ali-Jabu said.

Ali-Jabu said relations between traders and his office should be maintained and that revenue collection allows the City Council to achieve its goal of keeping South Sudan’s capital clean and safe.

"Let us cooperate with the traders like our brothers and friends of the City Council of Juba town," Ali-Jabu told reporters, adding "if it is not the traders, if we were not collecting money from them, we will not have these cars and the other amenities."

Some traders in Juba have long complained about City Council officials who levy heavy taxes on traders operating businesses in the capital.

The mayor noted he reduced the number of tariffs imposed on traders from 12 to five and said traders are no longer required to pay a “mayor’s fee.”

Several Juba traders welcomed the mayor’s intervention.

One trader based in Juba’s Munuki residential area, who preferred to be identified as Bright for safety reasons, said she is skeptical about the mayor’s new approach.

"I do not think this thing will work. As of now, my suggestion is that if the people at the head will start broadcasting these things on television or radio stations, telling people how markets should be run and we should do this and that. I think it will subdue most of the corrupt workers," Bright told South Sudan in Focus.

Another trader, who preferred to be identified only as Cecilia for safety reasons, welcomed the mayor’s move to address corruption.

"We are tired. We are feeding children with our daily income. If we find today, our children will eat, and if we lack, our children will also lack. We are tired and we need to support our children and our husbands but City Council cannot allow you. They come to demanding amounts every day. Sometimes you do not even have what they are asking for," Cecilia said.

Ali-Jabu advised traders to capture encounters of fraudulent transactions with City Council officials on their cell phones. He promised to persecute corrupt officials caught on camera.

"You are supposed to refuse to pay illegal fees and come to us. Take the picture of that official because these days there are smartphones and there are three people working in one shop. If this son of a thief comes, ask one of your colleagues to capture him on camera when handing money to him," Ali-Jabu said.