Africa

Africa 3.0: Cruisers and corruption, Juba style

Richard Poplak, Kevin Bloom

Where you see a proliferation of Toyota Land Cruisers in a developing nation, you know there's trouble.

Toyota Land Cruisers are everywhere you look in Juba, South Sudan.(Richard Poplak)

That’s the subject of this clip we’ve cut together, which explores the phenomenon in Juba, South Sudan – a place we’ve often described as an NGO feeding frenzy.

These Land Cruisers are used mostly by the employees (foreign and local) of a dizzying farrago of aid organisations, which are essentially driving South Sudan's economy, jamming it up with donated cash. 

One thing we don’t mention in the clip is how these vehicles are subject to rampant customs corruption. A used Land Cruiser, purchased across the border in Kampala, Uganda, will cost almost $140 000 by the time it is negotiating the rutted Juba streets. That equates to almost $80 000 of kickbacks and baksheesh per vehicle, none of which ends up in public coffers – and it's a price that NGOs don’t seem to have a problem paying. 

This tends to exasperate locals – most of the people we met in Juba hoped that independence would mean less of this kind of thing, not more. For now, though, Land Cruisers are a standard fixture on South Sudan's roads. If anything should inspire an urgency to develop, it’s that.

This post is part of Africa 3.0, a weekly series by Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom in which they highlight aspects of their travels and investigations on the continent. Visit http://africa3point0.tumblr.com for more, and engage with them on Facebook or Twitter.

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