January 23, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese minister of transportation and roads has tackled the issue of security with Chinese companies and measures needed to protect their workers in the troubled region of Darfur.
Four Chinese workers were abducted at gunpoint on the Al- Fasher-Umm Kaddada sector of the Western Ingaz Road on 12 January. They were released unharmed five days later, however, 11 Sudanese colleagues abducted with them remain unaccounted for.
The security situation in Darfur remains extremely volatile and unstable as a result of a 10-year-long conflict in the region. Besides the rebels, there are also militia groups operating in the area, recruited to fight rebels and tribal fighters.
Minister Ahmed Babikir Nahar Bridges met with representatives of Chinese companies to discuss their concerns and explain measures jointly decided with North Darfur state to protect their citizens.
Chinese companies halted work on the Al-Ingaz road following the incident while improved security measures were put in place.
Earlier this month, the governor of North Darfur state announced the formation of a security belt composed of army, police and security for the protection of foreign workers, while a number of security proposals presented by the companies have found approval from the competent authorities, according to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA).
The minister has also reiterated the government’s commitment to implementing the agreed measures.
He further underscored the state’s interest at the highest levels in the continued construction of the road due to its economic, development and security importance for the people of Darfur, calling on rebel movements to end the attacks on workers.
The Chinese companies commended the efforts exerted by the state for the release of their employees, and expressed hopes the Sudanese workers would also be freed by the kidnappers.
They also praised the strength of Chinese-Sudanese relations, confirming the incident will not affect ties between the two countries.