“Sire, can I rent your vehicle? How much can I pay? 5000 SSP, but that is a lot of money! Okay, how much would you afford to pay? I pay 500 a day. No, that is very little! Okay how much do you want, 1500 SSP without fuel. Fine, I will pay you that amount but including fuel”. Agreed! This is usual discussions with vehicle owners when engaged in renting a vehicle
Renting a vehicle is very difficult in Bentiu town; it always ends up getting prices that is not logic in many states capitals in South Sudan. Here, the owners of the few cars available are not only greedy, but they are crazy for money. Everything here is hard, very expensive for no good reasons.
Vehicle owners, those who own vehicle here are not local business people, men and women of Unity. There are very few local business people who can manage to buy vehicles. So who own these few vehicles in the town? Most of the vehicles in the town are owned by the most senior government in-officials and off-officials. Here is how it goes, when someone is appointed into government position like advisor, commissioner or a minister, s/ he is provide with a government vehicle, but s/he puts a private flat number. So the vehicle bought for 200,000 and above is owned to a government appointed minister who stayed in office for a year and get relieved. How many relieved government officials, there are so many of them and all of them left with government bought vehicles. In one of the counties, the commissioner when relieved from his duties left with four county government vehicles and communications equipments. He is using those vehicles now in business to generate money for his big families. Is there any pension for relieved government officials? Yes they are paid lot of money, but it was said that the reasons they go with the vehicles is that they are not given pensions after their work in the government, no, it is not true, they are paid very well.
The minister takes the V8 with him, the commissioner take land cruiser hard top with him; they are lucky people, only the rich one.
Who else own vehicles in Bentiu, ah, it is Nyakek Company, and who is Nyakek? Nyakek is a company said to be owned by the former governor of Unity state Lt. General Taban Deng Gai, it has so many vehicles as a company of course.
Last week I was riding in a commissioner vehicle, it was rented to one of the NGOs, government flat number removed and so was numberless to cover the shame of renting a government out to NGOs. Last year in November I was asked by a friend to facilitate for his travels within the state, the man was from a small NGO from America and was interested in visiting the refugees camp in northern Unity state, I negotiated the cost from 5000 SSP to 1500 SSP, the man agreed to pay the amount but in few minutes later my friend called me to tell me that 1500 SSP is a lot of money and his boss in Juba cannot accept that and the contract must be cancelled. Well, the contract was cancelled but the vehicle owner left with 500 SSP advance paid. I learned later that it was one of the directors of one of the state commissions who allured my friend with low prices. The director promised to lend his vehicle for 1000 SSP including fuel and a good driver.
You need to know more, ask GPOC and Sudd oil companies in Unity and Thar Jath oil fields they will tell you where and who own those vehicles they are renting for their staff, they will tell you that this car is rented from the agent of former minister of health, former minister of education, former minister of agriculture, and the list goes to include director generals, county commissioners.
The bad one, the police car, the only police ever car in Guit County is very busy every afternoons and evenings transporting people to and from the county to Bentiu town. A UN donated car turned into a public transport mean. Not only Guit who is doing this, all the counties does.
When is it going to stop, using government vehicles for personal uses? “No, no it is not going to stop soon, I don’t know when but I am sure it is not going to start with us those who are in this government, why us?” a ministers disputing the idea of government stopping buying and donated vehicles to individuals.