Home | News    Friday 12 March 2010

Bashir promises more railway construction in South Sudan

March 11, 2010 (WAU) – President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Thursday inaugurated a rehabilitated railway line in Western Bahr El-Ghazal state and promised to extend the transportation network farther.

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Railway train arrives in Wau, March 2010

The railway line opened today with a length of 446 kilometres running from Kordofan into Wau. The completion of this stage of renovation follows the landmark arrival of a train from Babanousa into Aweil on September 25, 2009.

In the conclusion of his speech delivered at a mass rally held in Wau stadium, President Bashir during promised more railway connections in Sudan extending from Wau to Rumbek, Juba and Uganda. He said that he had agreed with Uganda and Kenyan on business deals to empower the country’s economy.

This project cost $51 million and was funded largely by the Unity Support Fund, which was established by presidential decree on June 15, 2008 as a means to "make unity attractive" ahead of the 2011 referendum on South Sudan’s independence. International donors were also involved with some funding administered by the World Bank.

The railway had functioned during the last civil war when it was used to supply government garrison towns. But the line was targeted by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army’s in offensives against strongholds in Bahr El-Ghazal. The railway has not operated since 1991 when SPLA decided to break the line, said James Deng Dimo, Western Bahr El-Ghazal SPLM secretariat spokesman.

The two visiting politicians today, Bashir and Kiir, did not appear to agree about why the line had been disabled. Kiir recalled that the railway had been delivering military hardware to empower government army forces in South Sudan. By contrast, Bashir recalled that during the war period the railway was used for delivering services to people in South Sudan as well as agricultural and construction materials.

State caretaker Governor Efisio Kon Uguak said that it was not a day for political divisiveness but one to mark the first stage of implementation of the north-south peace deal by the national government and the government of Southern Sudan. Uguak also added that the arrival of this railway will reduce high prices of goods in Wau and will boost local trade.

President Al-Bashir likewise told crowd that the first train is loaded with food materials for southern and western Bahr El-Ghazal, which will help reduce prices. Also, he called for holding free and fair elections and voiced support for implementing the 2005 peace deal.

Salva Kiir arrived yesterday at 4:00 p.m. after a direct journey from the Kenyan capital, where he was attending an assembly of the seven-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Bashir arrived somewhat later, at 5 p.m., after a trip from Rumbek through Kuacjok and Tonj. He has been touring southern towns as part of his campaign for the election in April.

With the occasion concluded, President Bashir travelled to Raga County where he will be received by County Commissioner Hon. Lauic Romadhan. Kiir has gone to the Southern Sudanese capital at Juba.


Reporting by Manyang Mayom in Wau.