June 23, 2011 (JUBA) – The urban population in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, panicked on Thursday after rumours that the river, which supplies the population in the city with water, had been poisoned by the North Sudan government just days ahead of the region’s independence.
- Some residents in Juba bathe in the river Nile (photo Demotix)
Most of Juba city’s population is still dependent on the water in the River Nile
for drinks and other activities. Clean water supply by government through
pipelines is only limited to a small portion of the town’s population,
particularly to the government headquarters and residents of senior government
Hundreds of tanker trucks always roam the town from all day and in the evening carrying and selling water fetched from the River Nile to most of the town’s dwellers that have no access to clean drinking water.
On Thursday morning news spread like a wild fire through mobile phones that the River Nile has been poisoned by suspected agents from North Sudan government.
“I was not aware about what was happening,” said one Ethiopian business man,
Tesfaye, who sells river water to residents. “I was driving with water in my
truck but no body wanted to buy, then later on after two hours of driving around
in vain a friend of mine informed me of the news that water customers have heard rumours that the river has been poisoned.”
The situation sent a lot of anxiety among the population who were at the same
time suffering from the water shortage as the river was the only source of
water. Water business from the river almost came to a stand still when trucks
ferrying water could rarely be seen in some quarters of the town.
“I don’t know what to do, I have been depending on river water since I don’t
have access to clean water coming from the government,” said a lady, adding that she was entangled between lack of clean water and now the poisoned river water.
However, the General Manager of the South Sudan’s Urban Water Corporation,
Chamjok Chol Wectuor, refuted the allegations as baseless rumors. Speaking to
the press on Thursday, Wectuor explained to the public that as soon he heard
about the spreading rumours during the day he and his team immediately went to the River Nile and conducted several tests at the river.
He said water tests were conducted at different locations along the river and
the results were normal with no any sign of poisoning in the water.
Officials say the panic was triggered when some fishermen along the Nile
detected a number of dead floating fish flowing from south of Juba towards the
north as the dead fish were carried by the current of the River Nile. The
fishermen then alerted the population about their finding.
The head of the Urban Water Corporation, Wectuor, called on the population to
maintain calm, assuring that the water has not been poisoned.