Monday, September 24, 2012

Juba days

            Juba has been a little tough place to be as of late.  Fuel shortages, specifically diesel fuel, have made transport and power generation harder than usual.  There have been several times at the office where we’ve had to beg and borrow a jerry-can of fuel so we could run our generator for the day.  Many times our drivers have had to wait in line for a day waiting to get fuel for our vehicles.  We had one or two nights at the Guest House where there was no fuel either, cooking and reading by candlelight or solar powered desk-lamps.  Two years ago such occurrences added to the allure of being in a foreign place.  Now it’s just annoying and I grow weary of it.

            Security too has been a problem, though I have been fine.  There are a few parts of Juba, one area known as Gudele (“Goo-deli”) in particular, where nighttime robberies and shootings have been rampant.  At first people thought maybe the police were involved because some of the gangs who were carrying out the armed robberies appeared to be wearing police uniforms.  Later, when one of the bandits had been captured and questioned, it turned out that some police were renting out their uniforms for the evenings to criminals, a way of making a little something on the side.

            Though it is not terribly common I do occasionally hear gunfire outside of our compound late in the evenings.  I’ve come to listen closely to the shots, waiting to hear if there is any reaction.  When I hear shots but no screaming or sirens afterwards, then I know it is simply someone firing into the air.  Last week the latest crowd of police recruits graduated from the police academy.  That night I could hear a party and loud voices nearby and then several gunshots fired in celebration.  The shots were so close I half expected to find someone lying in the street when I came out the next morning, but as I’d heard no screaming after the shots I knew they were merely fired out of joy.

            Juba continues to be a city of rapid change.  Buildings are being thrown-up at a frenetic pace.  One good development has been the appearance of better construction methods.  While most buildings are still being made out of concrete hand poured into wooden frames over pencil-thin rebar, the columns looking far too insubstantial to hold-up their weight, I have seen at least two buildings going-up built from all-steel framing, big I-beams being bolted and welded together.  It gives one hope for the future that these buildings at least will still be around ten years from now.

           South Sudan remains a country of hope and despair.  The problems here often seem insurmountable, just too difficult to ever be solved.  But then you encounter a small miracle, a child who has been enrolled in school or a health clinic that has opened where people never had access to medicine before, and you are renewed in the hope that with time and effort, things will get better.

No comments:

Post a Comment