Japan and the United Nations Office for Project Services have set plans to develop river infrastructure and transport system to improve access and reduce the cost of transport of food and aid in South Sudan.
By Charles Kay
JUBA, –This was revealed in a forum held on Friday which was attended by representatives from the government, including Hon. Taban Deng Gai, First Vice President, Hon. John Luk Jok, Minister of Transport, Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, Minister of Roads and Bridges, and embassies, international organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector.
The forum aimed to discuss ways to improve river transportation within the country.
South Sudan has the highest relative cost of food in the world according to the World Food Programme and over five million people are estimated to require food support in 2018.
WFP reports that some of the country’s biggest humanitarian issues are directly linked to, and worsened by its poor infrastructure.
“The feasibility study is just the starting point. Now it is up to all of us to build on this and move towards creating a comprehensive barge transport system,” UNOPS South Sudan Country Director, Peter Mutoredzanwa, said.
The study assessed the feasibility and cost of developing South Sudan’s river barge transport system. While used locally for smaller transports, the White Nile River is barely used for larger goods transports. This is because the river is not deep or wide enough for barges to pass in some parts according to the survey.
It also shows that lack of port structures also makes unloading goods difficult or impossible – as most ports today do not have a dock.
Assessment of nine river ports was carried out in Juba, Mangalla, Mingkaman, Bor, Shambe, Bentiu, Malakal, Melut and Renk to inform future investments in port infrastructure.
The findings show that dredging is necessary to enable large transport on the river and could provide long-term financial savings for humanitarian donors.
The study recommends Rehabilitation of river ports and installation of navigation aids to provide breakdown of the estimated costs of investment by area and location.
“The Government of Japan will continue to support South Sudan. We recently announced the support of 34 Million USD,” said H.E. Seiji Okada, Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, during the conference in Juba.