While there are problems with many washed out roads in Juba and other cities and towns across the country this rainy season, South Sudan, with the help of the United States, is making great strides on other major transportation projects. Today the government inaugurated the Juba-Nimule road, a 192-kilometer highway connecting the capital, Juba, with the Ugandan border.
The newly completed road is the largest infrastructure project ever completed in South Sudan, and officials hope it can boost trade with East Africa.
Officials from the United States joined President Salva Kiir, and state and national South Sudanese officials to open the new road at the Liliyo Bridge, 26 kilometers south of Juba.
The road stretches from Nimule, at the Ugandan border, where it meets the highway to Kampala. From the Ugandan capital it then runs through Kenya to the port of Mombasa. All of South Sudan’s fuel and most of its produce and goods come from Uganda and Kenya. The government hopes the new road will make trade with the two countries faster and cheaper.
The road construction cost $225 million and was funded by the United States Agency for International Development. At the inauguration ceremony, President Salva Kiir thanked the American people for supporting South Sudan through years of civil war and more recently, following the peace agreement.
‘’During our peace negotiations with Sudan, America was one of the midwives attending to the birth of the new child, and they are the ones who brought peace to South Sudan. America did not leave us alone after the peace agreement, instead they came to live and say ‘let us help the people of South Sudan. That is why they constructed this road for us,” President Kiir said.
Before the road was built, traders and travellers coming to and from Uganda had to drive long hours over potholes and dirt tracks to reach Nimule. The new road will allow them to drive between the border and the capital in minutes rather than hours.
But with improved roads comes the risk of high speed accidents. President Kiir today urged motorists to drive safely.
‘’Please, people of South Sudan, and all those who will use this road, take care of yourselves first. Don’t pretend to hurry in order to reach quickly,” Mr. Kiir said.
US Ambassador Susan Page said the road is vital for South Sudan’s economy. During the event, she announced that the U.S. government would help fund road maintenance for the next year, due to South Sudan’s austerity measures.