South Sudan’s minister of Roads and Bridges, Gier Chuang Aluong, has announced the government’s plan to connect South Sudan and the neighbouring Kenya with a highway in order to boost economic activities between the two nations.
The highway, he told the press on Saturday, will connect Juba, the new country’s capital, and Nadipal at the two countries’ common border.
Aluong further explained the importance of the project, saying it will be “economically viable” and boost economic activities as commodities shall be ferried from the Kenyan port of Mombasa into South Sudan in big volumes and short period.
Currently South Sudan is a consumer country which exports almost nothing to the outside world besides the oil and imports almost every commodity including agricultural produces and livestock for meat from the neighbouring countries.
Aluong said the plan will be supported jointly with the World Bank and the Kenyan government, saying a meeting was already held by the three bodies to implement the project.
The highway project, which he said will be implemented in the coming year 2013, will be the second all-weather asphalted highway after the over 100 kilometres Juba-Nimule road, which was the first highway in South Sudan inaugurated last month.
The Juba-Nimule highway was funded and implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and connects South Sudan to Uganda.
The new country never had asphalted roads since creation and has not successfully built roads for the last seven years of the current government during which four different ministers of road took up the portfolio with the widow of the late founder of the ruling SPLM, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, as the first minister to hold the position in 2005 when the government was formed.
Officials acknowledge that the lack of roads hinders access to most parts of the vast country which significantly contributes to the failure to deliver the needed services to the 80% of the populations that live in the rural areas.
The minister of roads had earlier revealed that the country needs to construct at least 7,000 kilometres of asphalted roads network in order to connect the country’s ten states and to its neighbouring countries in the region.