It is 7 am on Thursday 11th June 2020 and the sky above the city of Juba is full of tumultuous, dark, ragged clouds. The morning is cold and wet with a brisk wind sweeping the rain across the land.
Under the fumes of morning traffic, a tincture of a young, dark man in a heavy black coat, white shirt, dark-blue trousers donning a black beret lingers like dew upon dim lights emitting from the cars along the intersection between Bilpam – Gudele – Airport – Customs roads.
The man beckoning motorists in an organized traffic fashion at Seventh Day roundabout is soaked in heavy showers under the open sky with no umbrella or stoplights to aid his work.
Meet George Kenyi, a traffic police officer who has become the new South Sudanese sensation.
His dedication and discipline while on duty as melted the hearts of many motorists and residents of South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
“Kenyi is a civil servant that executes his duties diligently and patriotically. A national inspiration he is,” said Awet Thon, an admirer on social media.
His diligence to duty has reached far and wide on social media, where he has received heaps of praises, gifts -in form of a vehicle, goats and other essential items.
“If a quarter of the whole regime in power was like this man [Kenyi] here, imagine how far we would have gone as a nation,” wondered Peter Akot Atak on Facebook.
Kenyi joined the police service in 2010. He first assignment was as an officer in Joint Security Operations around the country.
But in 2013, he was transferred to the traffic police unit in Central Equatoria state. It here Kenyi exhibited a love for his new duties, which include standing on the road directing motorists in Juba.
Despite the challenges of low pay and hard working conditions, Kenyi said he derived his happiness from being able to stop a would-be traffic incident.
“I joined the police service to serve my country and serve my people, I love my job because I want to help fix my country. I joined the police to protect my citizens, I don’t want them to suffer during the times of traffic.” Kenyi told Eye Radio in an exclusive interview on Friday 12th June.
Eye Radio caught up with Kenyi at his duty station at Seventh Day roundabout during a low [off-peak] traffic hour on Friday.
Over the last two weeks, the government has been cracking weep on indiscipline traffic police officers.
Members of the public have often complaint of constant harassment and extortion by police officers.
The traffic officers, they said, used to coerce them to pay bribes.
Other grievances raised by the motorists include intimidation over logbooks and tinted windows.
But Kenyi seems to be the odd one out, based on accounts of many motorists who have had an encounter with him.
“…. Kenyi has often refrained from bribery, harassing of drivers and embraced professionalism and respect for motorists and pedestrians,” said a lady in Juba.
Many have described him as a “patriotic” person.
Kenyi was in May 2020 promoted as a Warrant Officer, with a monthly salary of 4,700 South Sudanese Pounds.
With the hard economic conditions in South Sudan, the skyrocketing prices of commodities in the markets, the amount cannot sustain his family.
But the 32-year old said he will manage within his means, without the need to extort money from the public.
Kenyi is recently blessed with a fifth child on Thursday, 11th June 2020.
He says he wakes up early in the morning knowing that there would be rain, sunshine and many other challenges associated with his job, but that hasn’t stopped him.
Kenyi added that he sometimes forfeit lunch because of the traffic.
“Many people ask me, Kenyi why don’t you take a rest for a while, I always tell them that, how can sit or rest while the road is almost blocked due to traffic or jam?” he stated.
He, however, says he sometimes encounters unruly motorist who blatantly disobeys traffic rules, and ignores his directives.
“What is paining me here at the 7 days roundabout, some people respect the traffic rules but many don’t. Some of them don’t respect us, you want to stop him/her to direct them, they always refuse, others would insult and disrespect me -as if I’m not putting on a uniform. This is paining me,” he stressed.
George Kenyi appreciated all the best wishes he has received from the public -saying this has motivated him to do his job without expectations.
You can listen to the full exclusive interview of George Kenyi on Eye Radio’s Dawn Program on Monday, June 15, 2020, from 7 AM with Emmanuel Joseph Akile.
Via Eye Radio