6 December 2012

Sudan: Kenyi Chaplain Paul - 'I Don't Spend On Transport - I Just Walk'

Juba — Kenyi Chaplain Paul, 43, works as a security guard and occasional car-washer in Juba, the capital of the world's newest state, South Sudan. His wife, 10 children and a nephew live about 100km away, in the town of Kajo Keji, near the Ugandan border.

"My financial situation is not all that good as, when you have to borrow, there will always be a gap and even if you earn, it will be hard to [bridge] gap in places.

"The biggest headache is because two of my girls in primary school are just about to finish. If they complete it well, next will be secondary school, and financing that will be a bit hard for me as my salary is so little.

"I am now washing cars, too, and if I did not have that, I would have stopped my job and gone to work in construction or gone back home to rear livestock, as I wouldn't be able to send enough money back.

"I'm [hoping] that maybe I will be put on the night shift and then, say, I could rest for an hour or so, then during the day I could do other jobs. I am a good mender of shoes, and I would find a crowded place to sit and try to do that. Or maybe I could get a loan for my wife to mind a small business, like a shop selling a few things.

"The best thing is the reopening of the oil*. Actually, we don't benefit from that, but it will stabilize the situation. [Prices] shot up in the market [after the oil shutdown], and it was difficult to buy. There will be more jobs in private companies. In the past, people feared that it was close to war again and were not coming here. Now, maybe some more investors will come.

"The worst thing is land-grabbing. If you have a plot and you haven't developed it yet, someone can just come and take it from you. This happens a lot in Juba, but this also happened to me in Kajo Keji. The land belonged to my grandfather, and when he died, a neighbour to my left side came and squeezed me, then another neighbour on the other side, and people kept squeezing so that now I'm left with very little.

"I think that things will be better [in a year's time]. If things normalize, if the land is peaceful and business can run, I think in a year's time things will be OK.

*South Sudan halted oil production in January, amid a row with Sudan. Paul spoke to IRIN after an early November announcement that production would resume. But on 20 November, it was announced the resumption had been delayed over a fresh disagreement with Sudan.

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