Lack of cash frustrates Juba-Torit-Nadapal road progress

By James Atem Kuir

The Juba-Torit-Kapoeta-Nadapal highway has seen relativeprogress since earthwork officially began late last years, with much of the distance from Nesitu and Torit having reached thelevelling stage.

The 355-kilometer longroadproject is being undertaken by the Winners ConstructionCompany limited, a national construction firm,as the main contractor, with about ten others sub-contracted in which seven areindigenous companies.

The sub-contractedindigenous companies undertaking the workare; Five Investment Limited, AnisaTrading and Construction Company, Connect African Limited and Bentiu and Teka Joint Ventures,among others.

During a one-day inspection visit to the construction sites, organized by the Association of South Sudan Contractors (ASSCO) on Tuesday, mangers of the subcontracted companies echoed lack of cash flow as the major challenge frustratingtheir work on the road.

Joseph Lagu, a project engineer with Five Investment Ltd, one of the companies that has reached the embankment (levelling) stage of its 10km section, said the firmhad been able to achieve sizeable progress but lack of fundshadlimited the amount of work required on time.

“There are challenges butwe are moving forward as you can see. One limitation here is lack of cash flow which has been so inconsistent and somehow has affected us,” he said adding that communities living around along the road sometimes refused to give them access to the borrow pits to get soil materials.

Engineer Richard Ojangole the project engineer of AnisaTrading and Construction Company,said his firm hademployed 70 workers, 30 of whom comethe local community.

Embankingits 20km lot, Eng. Ojangolesaid lack of cash flowfor long time had made sustaining work difficultfor small company like theirs.

“The biggest challenge with us as a contractor, and all like us is the cash flow. Most small contractors like us cannot sustain themselves without payment,” Eng. Ojangole said adding: “we have done something enough to warrant a genuine payment to keep us moving at relative pace better than the way we are now.

Engineer Tesfamariam the manager of Bentiu and TekaJoint Venture, one of thecompaniesconstructing part of the road close to Torit town, saidthey had been pushing with limited resources fromthecompany.

He said he hoped that the stakeholders responsiblewould avail the cash so that his company could complete the remaining part before rains intensified.

“We have a lot of challenges but the main one remain the flow of cash, we are just pushing our limited resources and waiting for the parties responsibleto organize and avail the cash so that the work does not stop,” he said, adding that the local community had been cooperative.

Kur John Aleuthe project engineer of the Winners Construction Company, the main contractor of the project, recommended to the leadership of ASSCO to engage the government to give loans to the subcontractorsto help them accomplish their work on time.

“The message that I request your leadership to take to the top leadership of our country, is to find a way to empower our local subcontractors. As I said in the beginning, most of them are new in this industry, with limited resources and equipment so the government should do something like giving them loan so that they can buy equipment and build their capacity,” he said.

Malish Martin Joseph the chairman of ASSCOsaid havingassessedthe progress and challenges faced by companies undertaking road constructions, the association would go and engage the government and other stakeholders to find solution and help empower the local work efficiently.

“We will go to the leadership and the major stakeholders and we will come out with alternatives of funding so that the projects are not affected,” he said adding that ASSCOwas impressed with the work of Winners and its subcontractors.

Newtown Waniba, ASSCO’S deputy chairman said the association would work to empower indigenous companies to compete with their regional counterparts in the construction industry.

“We are happy to see that 70% of the companies undertaking the project are South Sudanese owned. We will always tryto bridge the gap and please employ more South Sudanese,” he said.

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