Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 5 July 2007

Southern Sudanese and northern Sudan development


Merowe Dam and Development in Northern Sudan: Where is Mr. Vice President Kiir in the Projects of the Presidency for the South

By James Okuk Solomon

July 3, 2007 — I got an opportunity on 24th June, 2007 to visit Merowe Dam and some accompanied development projects in that area. I am impressed that Presidency of the Republic of the Sudan is doing a great job for the generation of Northern Sudan with that project. The Dam is 50m tall to the sky and 176m long across the Nile to the hilly land. It has the capacity of storing eleven milliards cubic centimetres (11,000,000,000 cm3). The project is implemented by a combination of a number of Northern Sudanese and International companies in addition to Northern consultants from some Sudanese Universities (mostly from University of Khartoum). Attached to it is Agricultural Scheme of Hamadab (about 67,000 acres) with six big power generating diesel pumps from Britain put together in one irrigation canal station, which benefits the neighbouring small local farms as well. Another purpose of that water storage and pumping is to produce cheaper voltages of hydroelectric power for Northern Sudan and its industries. The Presidency and the companies who are managing the construction of the Dam have also, so good so far, built good hospitals, good schools, good mosques, well equipped sports centres, and good concrete residential villages and markets for resettling the locals whose areas have been affected by the project. Those model villages have been connected with new smooth tarmac roads in addition to the Northern lifeline Highway from Khartoum. Three big bridges are also being built along side that project to connect the major Towns of Northern States. Not only that, but also the Presidency is building a big International Airport with a longest and widest runway than the Khartoum Airport. The whole project is costing Sudan many Millions of dollars, some of which is borrowed by the Presidency from outside in the name of the whole Sudan, including Southern Sudan.

Though that developmental work is so impressive and commendable, I felt uneasy to discover that there are no Southern Sudanese represented in its administration (whether from the office of the President or that of the Vice President or even within the involved companies). I only saw Northerners!!! It is obvious that the project is benefiting the Northern Sudanese only in term of well paid jobs, investments and trade dividends. Does it mean there are no Southern Sudanese engineers and administrators who are qualified to be involved in that project? Does it mean they have been marginalized and kept a distance so that they do not expose the internal operation and transparency in the top management of that enormous lucrative project? Or does it mean they are denied to benefit from consultancy and administrative big remuneration from that work, which can enable them to help their people in different ways (school fees, housing, food, etc)? Why are not the same projects being seen in Southern Sudan since the debts incurred by their implementation affect the whole Sudan?

I hope our Vice President; H.E Salve Kiir, will take this challenge to at least push for the Southern Sudanese consultants and administrators to be involved in such projects, and also to push very hard for such kind of big development projects to happen in Southern Sudan. Let him not be pre-occupied very much with the problems of salaries (Chapter One), the uncertain unity of Darfurians movements, and the reshuffling of governments in the South, while letting go many Presidency opportunities that might benefit the South. It is being seen that the presidency draws strategies and plans for developmental infrastructure in the name of the whole country but implement them in the North alone. When will Mr. Salva Kiir make Southerners proud with something of his making for the South from his national hat of the presidency? Where are the voices of his advisors from Southern Sudan? Is the South in this way getting a fair share of the national infrastructural construction, which is suppose to make unity attractive and separation unattractive?

The Northern elites should be fair to the South if they want Sudan to remain as one strong country because they know it well, and Southerners also know it pretty well that the South is the lifeline of the flourishing future of the whole Sudan – if it got cut the North will become weak to suffer in addition to the present politico-environmental crisis of Darfur! Magnifying and blaming the pockets cases of corruption within the GoSS is only a pretext of intentional withholding of some crucial developmental opportunities in the South by Northerners and their allies. As the management of Merowe Dam project did not fall under the government of Northern State so will the management of Fulla Dam Project (for example if started) falls under GoSS administration. It shall be managed by the Presidency and the involved companies as it is happening with Merowe Dam and other agricultural projects in the North. Nevertheless, there should be fair inclusion of Southerners in top management and consultancy (if such good will occurs from the Presidency soon).

* James Okuk is a junior diplomat (Second Secretary) in the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is also a young PhD student in the University of Nairobi in the area of Political Philosophy. He can be reached at okukjimy@hotmail.com

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