February 3, 2014 (JUBA) – Authorities in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, which has been severely affected by conflict for the last six weeks, have told civil servants to return to Bor and resume work within seven days or face unspecified penalties.
Arop Leek, Jonglei’s secretary general, said the decision was made in order to restore the state’s broken institutions following weeks of intense fighting that has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
"Normalcy has returned to Bor town (and) the state government would like to rebuild its institutions of governance," Leek told Sudan Tribune at the Jonglei state coordination office in Juba on Monday.
The exact number of civil servants is not known, according to Leek who said that the government needed to "conduct another census" to establish the figure.
Other Jonglei state officials say there are around 2,000 government employees.
Some officials, including ministers, shifted sides at the onset of the conflict when a large part of the army defected and took control of the town days after the fighting began in Juba.
Three ministers have already dismissed by Jonglei’s governor John Kong Nyuon for having joined the rebels, who have named themselves the SPLM/A in Opposition.
Bor was first taken by anti-government forces on December 18 and has changed four times since then. Government soldiers - backed by Ugandan troops - regained control of Bor on January 18.
However, Jonglei state workers there is a lot to be put right before calling them back to work with much of the town destroyed including the markets creating acute food shortages.
“I used all my money to transport my family to Juba and I have no money for bus fare back to Bor,” said John Anyieth, a state worker now staying in Juba.
"The houses are looted. You cannot find a mattress," said Thon Nyok, another state government worker.
"The town has to be cleaned of dead bodies. There are dead people in the houses and when you go and got a body inside your house, you will not feel comfortable sleeping in the same house again,” Nyok, who went to Bor last week only to return to Juba, added.
However, Secretary General Arop Leek is adamant that all state employees must obey the order.
“We will implement the civil services regulations on them,” said Leek when asked what penalties awaits a worker refusing to comply.
President Salva Kiir has asked the governors of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, who were dislodged by the rebels during the conflict, to return to their provincial capitals two weeks ago. However, the governor of Jonglei state is still in Juba.