March 18, 2012 (BOR) - At the opening of a church, school and a clinic built by a local businessman on Sunday the bishop of Bor diocese said development programs in villages of South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei State shows the potential the young country has to transform from traditional to modern of ways of life.
- Bor Diocese Bishop, Ruben Akurdit Ngong, leading Christians into the new Church at Makol Cuei village in Jonglei State, South Sudan. March 19, 2012 (ST)
A massive disarmament campaign in underway in the state to counter cattle raiding and tribal feuds that have blighted Jonglei for years, as the state struggles to develop an economy not based on cattle.
Speaking in Makol Cuei village of Baidit payam [district] Rev. Ruben Akurdit Ngong, accused some of South Sudan’s richer businessmen of being selfish by not helping their communities with development projects. The world’s youngest country is one of the poorest in the world after decades of civil war stunted its economic growth.
“There are some people, when God give them a portion, they become selfish. They don’t think of what to do for the communities”, said Akurdit. He said the new buildings will mean people will remain at Makol Cuie even at the times of uncertainty, rather than flee to Bor and other larger towns during cattle raids and conflict.
Makol Cuei village has been one of the many villages in Jonglei, which has been prone to attacks by cattle raiders and child abductors. Due to poor infrastructure and large size South Sudan’s army and police have struggled to protect civilians from raids and counter raids.
Arms are common in South Sudan as a consequence of the civil war that led to country’s independence in July last year. Since secession South Sudan’s economic woes have continued with inflation, rising food prices and the closure of the north-south border, blocking trade and much needed imports.
To make matters worse a dispute over oil transit fees with north Sudan led the Juba government to stop production depriving the fledgling state of 98% of its income.
The opening ceremony of the new facilities attracted thousands of people, including those from South Sudan’s capital Juba, other major towns as well as those in the local area.
The state advisor to the Jonglei governor, Agot Alier, said he appreciated the efforts of Ruben Kok Alat for the development initiatives he has undertaken in the area. Alier said that Alat has invested in life saving projects.
However, he warned that it was up to the government to provide protection to citizens, who had been left without guns after the recent disarmament campaign, which was triggered by an attack by the Luo Nuer ethnic group on the Murle in December and January and the subsequent retaliatory attacks. The UN estimates that over 120,000 people were affected by the violence.
The new Makol Cuei church is one of the biggest and modern churches in Jonglei State.
A chief of Biong Village, Malith Magok, said the village had received a number of development projects from some individuals before Sudan’s second civil war (1983-2005), which led to the deaths of 2 million people and the displacement of around four million.
- Group of chiefs standing in front of the church at Makol Cuei village in Jonglei State, South Sudan. March 19, 2012 (ST)
He said Jok Nhial dug the well that provided clean water to the village and Akau Deng constructed roads both in 1970s.
Alat is now building a three storey building that will serve as a shopping center and banking premises in Bor, the Jonglei capital.
The head of Engineers on the projects, Martin Kaniba, said it took them two and half years to build the school, the church and the clinic. He said they begun their work in early 2009 and finished this month.
Kaniba said 80 engineers and 45 helpers worked in the construction of the three buildings.
The school is has over eight class rooms, staff rooms and a store. The clinic has all the necessary compartments for a modern clinic, including a laboratory.