Africa’s newest state, South Sudan, celebrated her 10th independence anniversary this year. For a country so new, it is expected that various challenges of rebuilding itself prevails, but the country is braving the storm to be among other rapidly developing African countries.
Upon attaining independence in 2011 from Sudan, the founding administration listed road network, housing, banking, insurance and schools as sectors that needed urgent attention.
10 years later, the country looks up, trying to woe investors into the very critical sectors it laid emphasis on at independence. Among these sectors is roads and infrastructure, which has remained highly underdeveloped over the years.
Early February this year, South Sudan reached an agreement with Chinese firm Shandong Hi-Speed Group Co., Ltd (SDHS) to embark on construction of major highways linking the capital Juba to the remote countryside.
Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, minister of roads and bridges said the move would boost peace and trade besides helping connect people across the country that have suffered a five-year-long conflict.
“Together we are celebrating the signing of the agreement witnessed by the President (Salva Kiir). The President has encouraged us with a policy of oil for development for which we are now embarking on the first ever construction of one of the roads in South Sudan that will be followed by other roads,” she told journalists in Juba during inspection of the road equipment.
Okwaci disclosed the first phase would start with construction of the Juba-Terekeka-Yirol to Rumbek road.
“We believe that roads are peace, roads are stability, trade, connectivity of the people and country,” added Okwaci.
She lauded the Chinese government for supporting infrastructure development.
Underdeveloped road network
South Sudan currently has only one major tarmacked highway; the Juba-Nimule, which is a gateway to Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
Li Chao, SDHS representative in South Sudan, lauded the South Sudanese government for trusting the company with the major road construction project.
“We signed a multi-party agreement and contract agreement with ministry of roads, petroleum and finance. So we extend our great gratitude to the people of South Sudan and the trust given by the government of South Sudan for this project,” he said.
“We have done a lot of preparation for the implementation of this project including the mobilization of all the machinery to speed up our implementation and construction of the project,” he added.