News / Africa

South Sudanese Propose Moving Capital

Residents of Western Bahr el Ghazal want to move the national capital from Juba to Wau.
Residents of Western Bahr el Ghazal want to move the national capital from Juba to Wau.

Hundreds of residents of Western Bahr el Ghazal rallied in the state capital this week for a somewhat unusual cause: they want the national capital of South Sudan to be relocated from Juba to their state capital, Wau.

“Wau is an old town and we are ready to receive any state institutions," said Mary Emilio Bafuka, the head of a local NGO called Women of South Sudan. 

State Governor Zachariah Hassan Rizik said earlier this month, when President Salva Kiir visited Western Bahr el Ghazal, that, unlike Juba, Wau has enough land to house public institutions and the potential to produce electricity on a large scale to power the government and residents. It has also remained peaceful during the conflict in the country. 

State Information Minister, Derick Uya Alfred, said relocating the national capital to Wau will help to create jobs in the region and boost the local economy.

Room for all

He also reiterated what Rizik said -- that there is plenty of room in Western Bahr el Ghazal for everyone who would come to the region if the capital were moved there. 

“We have enough land and there are no people living on it," Uya said. "If you go to Raja County and other directions, there is a lot of land. This land might belong to people but it could be rented, and then they will be better off.”

Not the first time

Antonate Benjamin Bubu said South Sudan should take a leaf out of other  countries' books and relocate the capital. Nigeria moved its capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1991 and Tanzania moved its administrative capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma in 1974.

“I have seen, in many countries, that the capital can start out in one place and then be relocated to another so that the new area can develop," Bubu said.

"The idea is not new," he added.

Even the United States, in its early days, had eight different capitals before a permanent one was established in Washington, D.C. in 1800, 14 years after independence. 

Paul Sabin Wadito, 30, shrugged off historical precedent and said he doesn't want to move the capital. He fears that doing so will harm Western Bahr el Ghazal's less-well-off residents because powerful people might try to take their land from them.

A member of the government, Information Minister Michael Makuei, said a rally of several hundred people in Wau was not enough to move the capital, in any case.

"Whether this capital will be transferred or not is not the question of one state demanding it. It needs more than that," Makuei said. He added, however, that the government respects the right of the people of Western Bahr el Ghazal to freely express themselves.

It's not the first time South Sudanese have considered moving the national capital.

In 2011, the cabinet approved a $10-billion plan to relocate the capital to Ramciel in Lakes state. Officials said they needed to move because they could not find enough land for government buildings in Juba.

That plan was never implemented, largely because funding was not available.



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Comment Sorting
by: McOyit from: Cape Town
July 28, 2014 1:27 PM
1st of all i don't see any reason for taking the Capital to Wau, even though we got a good reason I think this is not the right time to replace the capital, i see taking capital to Wau needs some budget. I really don't know if we got plenty cash for doing so. When We say we need schools, health centers, security or development; they no cash. But when it comes to war and protecting the government or taking the capital to Wau! Cash will available!

by: Dau from: Juda
July 27, 2014 9:25 AM
Im thinkin on what to be done to our nation not to coment on relocation of the capitle juba. We better sell this nation, work & stay as labour in our forengh countries. Simple

by: pidor from: Seattle, Washington.
July 25, 2014 6:15 PM
Thanks for the president of South Sudan for your time to decided to move the national capital of southern Sudan to your state. It is not a nationalcapital of South Sudan, this is a your greater Bahr el ghazal state,because we are going to be adapted for federal system. Thank you for your time to working on your own city capital.

by: Dut Manyok Chuereng from: Juba
July 25, 2014 5:01 AM
The national capital should not be moved from Central Equatoria, Juba to Western Barh El Ghazal, Wau

by: Lisa from: Tx
July 24, 2014 7:51 PM
This is unthinkable move. South Sudan government might be crazy or they are playing studipity. Instead of thinking how the country can achieve long term peace. Do the south Sudan government think that the own going war is just a game. You can not compare other country to south Sudan. This means that kiir government have a big problem in their thinking , facts south Sudan promises to create the interim government. which i believe its going to be put on hold. If we remember clearly kiirs was to end his term to give way for elections but his government comes up with something like creation of new capital. believe me this time south government will counter attack opposition areas by force and blaming that its opposition, even if kiirs armies pretence to disown kiir to create anything to accuse Dr riek. Please south sudanese pray and never stop prayering. the devil is trying any thing for us to stop hoping and having faith. Truth hurt once i said kiir want south Sudan, to turn New Sudan because that was the mission of splm/a. Now that splm/a is not fighting the northern government, to start a new chapter in the new country we have to forget the pass and move on. Wau was capital under the Sudan government. Say am wrong. Kiir and his ministers don't want to stop the war but only their interested in promoting war. All the ministers families are out of the country they don't care. Am asking the poor south sudanese never to believe in kiir government because of changing plan instead of focusing to bring peace. Please God do something Dr riek needs your help. Am not accusing kiir, but he refuse to bring peace from his heart to the innocent. His army is killing the innocent, they are mistreating people because they are not paid. Some still depending on their families and some don't have their own. That is why they are taking people s stuff by force, i pray one day Jesus will change their heart to believe in peace and they will join any peace movement in south Sudan instead of killing and doing wrong things to people. Lord have mercy.

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