Juba City is fast growing as an alcoholic city that if not checked might become a brooding zone for alcoholics.
The rate at which Juba City residents consume alcohol is not just alarming but also worrying. And the fact that alcohol is easily available on most shelves of Juba shops is enough evidence that the commodity is sold as if with utmost impunity.
It also amplifies the fact that alcohol-importation into South Sudan’s capital city is one of the most lucrative business to make quick money. Unscrupulous traders have capitalized on the ready market to make quick profits at the expense of the health of poor and innocent alcohol consumers. Some of the brands of liquor sold in Juba are cheap and nearly affordable to every ordinary person.
The web of cartel engaged in this money minting and reckless business can only be equated to an underworld operation syndicate. And as if they are not ashamed, the traders seem to be doing their business with near utmost impunity.
Many city residents are now left wondering on the fate of the city’s workforce, which seem to have been left at the mercy of the gods of alcoholism. In some cases alcohol brands are readily available for a song.
To drive my point home, last year, I was invited by a friend to attend a memorial service of his late aunt at Hai Kator. The occasion was truly rewarding, not only because of the priest’s sermon but more importantly because of the take-home-messages of peace and reconciliation expressed by the speakers.
An elderly speaker drew our attention to the growing cases of alcoholism among the youth. He narrated a story of four young men who were allegedly playing alcohol-drinking-game at Yapa Boma of Lo’bonok County. In the game, each player was to drink five bottles of the London No 1 brand of whisky and the winner would be awarded SSP 10,000 cash prize money. The game came to a tragic end after one of the competitors collapsed and died on the spot. He had gobbled four bottles of the drink in lighting speed.
Barely two months ago, a similar competition was held in Juba and young-family -man reportedly died after drinking nine bottles of Uganda Waragi at Bilfam Pub in Hai Kator.
These two incidents should not be treated as isolated cases rather as a major public health problem that results in morbidity and premature mortality of a broad cross-section of our society from causes that includes poisoning, liver diseases, car accidents and other related accidental death.
It is very much hurting that these horrible drinking incidents often rob us of the country’s much needed human resource and manpower yet there is nobody seems to care about solutions to this problem.
Though the National Bureau of Standard has overly come up with approaches to end the alcoholism problem, these efforts seem to be fruitless. They seem to be handling the whole campaign with baby gloves, if not, they are treating the symptoms and not the disease.
The loud silence on the part of the agency has compounded matters to breed another fresh flock of alcoholics. There is more sustained supply of cheap alcohol in the already flooded market and continues to bite social values. There is also evidence that most of the major violent conflicts among our youth happen in Juba City when they are under the influence of alcohol.
The government through the concerned authorities should respond through the following drastic measures: increase awareness, targeted harm reduction education, development and implementation of programs, which are tailored to address the underlying health and social causes of heavy alcoholism and other alcohol-related problems.
To this end, there must be an immediate suspension of sale and supply of cheap alcoholic drinks such as Rhino, London and Uganda Waragi. This move will save the lives of poor alcohol consumers whilst preventing the city from becoming an alcoholic city.
Let us all converge our energies and minds to realize this moral objective. Let us work to end the high cases of premature mortality among our youth.
By: Alex Lotiyu Elia Lado