In Malakal, Upper Nile, as across South Sudan, the rainy season brings torrential downpours that disrupt the lives of communities, rendering roads and pathways inaccessible.
To mitigate the effects of the upcoming wet season, 105 engineers from India serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were tasked with rehabilitating the main supply route linking Malakal town with the airport.
The importance of this five-kilometer route cannot be overemphasized – it ensures food supplies can reach communities, people have access to healthcare when needed, humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable continues unabated and trade continues.
The Indian engineers battled harsh conditions and worked in the sweltering heat for multiple days to complete the repairs which involved flattening and bolstering the road surface to make it durable for both heavy as well as light traffic.
This is also expected to make operations easier for the UN Peacekeeping mission which regularly uses the route to protect civilians and facilitate delivery of aid.
Luka Sadallah Deng, Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information, Upper Nile state welcomed progress made on rehabilitating the thoroughfare and expressed his appreciation to UNMISS Blue Helmet for their timely intervention.
“Before the Indian peacekeepers began work on this road, it was nearly destroyed by last year’s rains,” revealed Mr. Deng. “We did not have the equipment to fix it ourselves and it was extremely difficult for all the townspeople to travel. However, following the work done by UNMISS, it now takes us only 15 minutes in a vehicle to reach the airport from the state government and police headquarters.”
Apart from making it easier for individuals to access goods and services, the improved roadway has another important benefit – reducing the time taken to reach the main police station in the centre of Malakal is expected to improve the law and order situation in town and reduce criminality.
Additionally, state authorities are planning to continue collaborating with UNMISS to renovate a 50-kilometer route linking Baliet county with Malakal as well as improve arterial roads to Melut and Akoka, which are currently still submerged.