When South Sudan gained independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan, the country’s infrastructure, especially roadways, was in an extremely poor state.
In the decade that has since elapsed, improving road conditions across the world’s youngest nation has continued to be a priority for peacekeepers deployed to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as well as humanitarian partners, .
“Rehabilitating roads enables us to protect civilians more effectively and ensure humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it the most,” revealed Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS. “More importantly, it enables communities to convene and connect, boosts trade, rule of law and, above all, peace.”
This year, business operations and community interactions between Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area is set to increase exponentially, following the completion of repairs to a 183-kilometer stretch by peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea.
Local traders in both sister towns are excited.
“Once this road is opened to the public, it will make all the difference to our lives,” said Elizabeth Babuzen Korok, a businesswoman from Pibor.
“We will be able to sell our goods at a fair price to many more customers and be able to continue earning a living even during the rainy season.
Additionally, it will also hugely reduce inflation; everybody will be able to buy what they need.”
James Makuach, State Minister for Roads and Bridges, Jonglei was equally elated.
“Our people have suffered a lot, especially when roadways get flooded. Their access to healthcare and education becomes non-existent, prices of essential commodities skyrocket and life becomes nearly unlivable for the common man,” averred Minister Makuach.
“This has been the story of many families in this region, but now that UNMISS peacekeepers have completed this mammoth project, we are hopeful that conditions will improve swiftly.”
Intercommunal conflict and criminality fueled by economic deprivation is also expected to reduce with improved connectivity.
For Young Rok Jeon, Commanding Officer of the South Korean engineers, now is the time to savour a job well done and congratulate Blue Helmets under his leadership.
“This was a challenging project for us. Peacekeepers battled inclement weather and our work were even temporarily halted at one point.
But I am glad to say that we persevered and finally managed to hand over this necessary rehabilitation to local authorities,” he stated proudly.
Over the years, South Korean peacekeepers have cumulatively repaired some 1,700 kilometers of roads between Mangalla, Bor and Pibor