By Ngor Arol Garang
August 3, 2011 (JUBA) - The ministry of roads and bridges in the Government of South Sudan on Wednesday said all road construction campaign promises made by President Salva Kiir, during last year’s general elections, will be implemented by 2015.
“We know all the president’s promises but they cannot all be implemented this year, we will implement them in phases till 2015,” said Director General of roads and bridges, Abraham Mabor, explaining the 2011 budget allocated to the ministry does not cover internal roads in each of the ten states.
“Much of the budget for 2011 will be spent on roads and construction of bridges connecting main places and town[s]. The ministry is also prioritising feeder roads connecting agriculture schemes and projects”, he added.
Peter Deng Mawien, a member of South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said in an interview with Sudan Tribune in Juba on Wednesday that there were too many foreign contractors working on road projects across the country.
“It is indeed correct that we in the Government of South Sudan are facing a lot of challenges. We used to buy dollars from the government of Sudan every month during the interim period to pay the international contractors, which brings pressure on the local currency, that is why it is depreciating at an alarming rate,” Mawien warned.
He also disapproved of the the hiked costs of road construction, suggesting that a unit of design engineers at the Ministry of Roads and Bridges should be formed to evaluate the costs of foreign engineers.
“Our debts are now excessive because of such delays. Why sign contracts when there is no money allocated?” asked Mawein.
“As we move to attain 100 percent tarmac roads, we need to accommodate local contractors,” he said, arguing that giving priority to local contractors will not only reduce the depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound, but will also help to improve the knowledge of local contractors.
The Central Equatorial State Member of Parliament to the National Assembly in Juba, James Duku, praised Kiir’s administration for helping his constituency address the construction of roads, schools and health services during recent years and expressed his determination to continue providing more services to his constituents
“Working with the government of the day under President Kiir does not mean someone is a stooge,” said Duku, saying this was the opinion of “confused and frustrated” members of opposition parties.