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South Sudan taxi operators, commuters suffer as anti-COVID-19 measures take shape

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Onen Isaac, a taxi operator stood near an eight-seater van as he invited potential commuters to board his car in South Sudan’s capital of Juba’s Sherikat bus park station during the evening rush hours.

His business has taken a beating due to anti-COVID 19 containment measures like curfews being implemented by the government to the curb spread of the disease in the world’s youngest republic.

“The business is now becoming difficult, and life is hard to sustain at the moment.

The authorities have forced us to limit the number of passengers to four per trip,” said Isaac.

The father of four children said since the government decided to extend lockdown indefinitely, including the closure of all non-essential businesses, life has become unbearable for his family.

He said that traders and commuters are now bearing the brunt of restrictions imposed by the government to contain the spread of the disease.

“I am making less money compared to the period when there were no curfews or lockdowns,” said Isaac.

Manyok Maker, a commuter, said he spends all his daily wages on transport, adding that restriction on the number of passengers to be carried in a public transport vehicle was draining his savings.

“The bus fare has been hiked and it has impacted negatively on my savings. I rely on daily income, and now I end up spending it on bus fare. Nothing remains for home consumption sometimes,” Maker said.

Elizabeth Amour said she has also suffered from the high cost of transport despite her weak revenue base.

“In the morning hours, the bus fare is usually double the amount we used to pay before the COVID-19 pandemic was reported in the country. Our monthly income can hardly meet other obligations like rent,” Amour said. 

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