March 22, 2014 (JUBA) – Members of the state legislative assembly in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal have summoned the state minister of physical infrastructure to appear before a briefing over oddities in the allocation of land plots in the capital, Aweil.
- Three boys carry their belongings by cart in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el-Ghazal (Photo: UN/Staton Winter)
Minister Angui Diing Diing, a well-known associate of Pagan Amum Okiech, the former secretary-general of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, is expected to appear before members of the house on Monday.
Multiple members of parliament told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that Diing had been expected to attend a briefing on 17 March, but failed to appear after reportedly taking sick leave.
Under articles 56 and 58 of the State Transitional Constitution, members are permitted to summons any public office holder to clarify matters of public importance.
In an ordinary session on Monday, state legislators described the minister’s no-show as disrespectful and a sign of “insubordination”.
State MP Santino Mayuat Ngong confirmed that Diing had been summonsed over issues related to the allocations and acquisition of land in Aweil town, after the minister failed to address complaints raised by local residents, some of whom staged a protest.
Like other urban centres in the country, Aweil town has experienced rapid population growth since the end of the civil war with Sudan, compounded by the fact that many returnees to the country who fled at the height of the conflict now preferred to resettle in urban centres rather than their remote, ancestral homelands.
Analysts say the trend has driven an increasing demand in urban areas, leading to the proliferation of informal land markets and value speculations.
Deng Ajou, a resident of Maper Akot, a residential area in Aweil town told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the state ministry of physical infrastructure was responsible for the problems, accusing officials of being driven by greed.
“I have been here living in Aweil for the last seven years and I know where exactly the problem lies. It lies squarely with the officials at the state ministry of physical infrastructure,” he said.
“They don’t care about service. I tell you now 120 people share documents with similar plot details. I am now sharing the plot with someone else. The same plot that was given to me after paying for it and completed all the processes is the same plot which has [been] given to someone else. This is a complete mess and the ministry did not want to address [the issues],” he added.
Ajou said that these days the only want to secure a land plot in the area was through back door dealings with the officials at the state ministry of physical infrastructure and the town council, adding that very few in Aweil owned large land resources.