Articles and Analysies
Horrible conditions of Juba roads By Jacob K. Lupai
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Sep 5, 2008 - 2:01:10 PM

Horrible conditions of Juba roads

By Jacob K. Lupai*

Southern Sudanese and indeed the marginalised of Sudan went to war and paid dearly precisely to enjoy the comforts of development. The war brought what is now known as comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) between North and South Sudan. However, within the North there is a war raging in the West between one time allies against the South. It is not clear what is going on in the East and further north. It is not, though, within the scope of this article to go any further.

The CPA signed in 2005 to end 21 years of a protracted war was to usher in what may be described as an era of peace and development. Nonetheless, one is not anymore sure whether the sacrifices made were really for the lack of development or a deceptive way for personal gain and satisfaction where one’s stomach and wallet were full with less consideration and empathy with the marginalised for the common good. There were obviously fundamental differences between the North and the South on issues of race, ethnicity, religion, culture and development to mention a few of the differences that had widened the gap. The widened gap was partly due to short-sightedness and greed of the political leadership in the North with the mistaken belief that they were serving the Arab and Islamic cause instead of championing the Sudan as the land of the Blacks as the lighter Arabs of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries know it. The gap was also partly due to opportunists from the South who would just accept without reservation to be second class citizens in their land of birth. The MENA countries have problems of their own to bother much about Sudan.

I strongly take issue with the horrible and depressing conditions of roads in and around Juba, the southern national capital. It is totally unacceptable for such horrible and depressing sight of roads in Juba under the very noses of the authorities concerned to be ignored. May be the question to ask is “who is precisely responsible for roads in and around Juba?”

Most roads criss-crossing Juba are in utter state of disrepair. One road of concern is the Konyo Konyo main road from the Freedom Square to Kator residential area and to Lologu, a suburban village. This is a very busy road. It is in the heart of Konyo Konyo trading centre which is bustling with mini-buses plying back and forth between Konyo Konyo and Lologu and between Konyo Konyo and Customs including the recently established trading centre near the previous Sudan Armed Forces main barracks in Juba. The road is so bad that recently a car overturned. In peak hours the congestion is unbearable. One really wonders whether there is at all a unit responsible for the town’s roads. We know that there is a tarmac road in progress that may become a ring road of Juba. However, the World Bank had criticised the award of the contract for the said tarmac road citing what must have been a sort of mismanagement and possible corruption.

With regards to Konyo Konyo poor road a two-day work with a grader and a couple of loads of gravel or maram could have been the appropriate solution in the meantime. It is not necessary to list the entire roads in Juba that need urgent attention for this will never make any difference at all. The road authorities are already aware of the problem but probably the main weakness is incompetence. Also the usual claim of the lack of resources may be the reason for doing nothing while motorists including myself who frequent the Konyo Konyo main road endure untold sufferings. I was stuck until some youth came to my help to push the car out of the dreadful potholes muddy road. I was left fuming and most probably cursing in the confusion. I am writing from experience and what I have seen as a resident of Juba.

The traders and retailers in Konyo Konyo market deserve a better treatment. They pay taxes and the taxes collected should have been seen in a form of services to the people notwithstanding the CPA supposed dividends. Rehabilitation and maintenance of roads is obviously one visible way of demonstrating that taxes collected from the people are used for the common good. One finds it strange that expensive cars are driven around while there seems to be indifference to the state of roads in Juba. Three years on after the CPA the original residential areas of Juba have not tasted modernity since colonial times. Malakia is a case in point. Roads in Juba after the CPA seem not to fair any better. Sanitation is the poorest probably exarcebated by the massive influx of people into the southern national capital after the CPA. However, what is being done as for now to alleviate the problem is anybody’s guess. Words of mouth do not anymore carry weight. However, provision of graders and loads of maram for roads may be a sure way to convince people of the seriousness of the focus on the rehabilitation and maintenance of the inner Juba roads.

In conclusion the pace of the rehabilitation of roads in Juba is very slow indeed and unacceptable three years after the CPA was signed. Professionals should be seen to talk less and do much more in practical terms. Rehabilitation of busy public roads is a very welcome step that will be appreciated by all in the end. This should be done sooner rather than later. People seem to be losing confidence and hope as expressed by one Konyo Konyo resident citing the past as better than the present under the CPA. This will only be good news to anti CPA elements. To starve the enemies of CPA people should focus on revolutionary vision of development to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. This means focusing on basic needs with immediate tangible results as a proof of commitment to development goals. Many in Juba rely on public transport and poor roads are a serious problem to breadwinners. Road authorities need to do more without stories for stories do not add up. Good roads are a pleasant sight and may be a sign of commitment. The next election in 2009 may be a barometer to test the perception of the electorate as to what extent their satisfaction is with the implementation of the CPA and the services provided to address their basic needs. It will not be a surprise when some will not win enough votes while some will find themselves out in the cold.

*The author can be reached at [email protected]

From: [email protected]



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