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US DOLLARS 800,000 Approved for road projects

The Council of Ministers has approved USD 899,296 for roads construction projects connecting the country and Ethiopia.

The two major roads are the Gambella-Pagak, Mathiang-Palouch, Dima-Raat and Boma-Bor roads.

In February this year, President Salva Kiir and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn agreed to construct major roads connecting the two countries in order to facilitate transport between the two states.

Speaking to journalists after the Council of Ministers’ meeting last Friday, Information Minister and Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth said the money was needed to finalize the agreement on the two roads.

“These two are very important because they are actually regional integration roads. The cabinet approved the establishment of a steering committee which will coordinate with the Ethiopian government and the project will be implemented by the Ethiopian Military Engineering Corps,” Lueth said. “So a sum of 899,296 US dollars was approved for this committee to continue to move between the two countries up to the time they will be in position to work out the final mechanism,” Minister Lueth added.

Both Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) and Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) have welcomed the projects.

On his part the Executive Director of CEPO, Edmund Yakani said peace and stability could be the first priority in the country before talking about road construction connecting the two countries.

“I wish that this money should come when the country is in peace and stability. This is because we want to see our borders secure in order to have balanced trade between the two countries,” he said.

He said the employment of the Ethiopian Military Corps in the construction of the roads indicates that the situation is not normal.

“In normal circumstances it is supposed to be a private sector that can be cross-checked through checks and balances but since there is a military engagement in the project, it is sending a signal that things are not normal. That is why I am saying peace and stability could have been the best approach before the implementation of such projects,” he said.

“Peace and stability are supposed to be the first priority to pave the way for such a project in a peaceful manner without interference and disturbance from the armed groups. We need to find a solution to convince the armed groups to lay down their arms in order to create a conducive environment for the construction of the roads,” Yakani added.

The Executive Director of FODAG, Jame David Kolok said he welcomed the project because it would connect the country with its neighbours.

He said once implemented, the roads would improve the economy due to wider access to outside markets.

“The road that is being allocated funding is an ideal project. However, it could work better if the country is stable and people are able to utilize that road,” he advised.

He said the government should prioritize its investment on activities that will have direct impact on the people.

“At the moment we need to prioritize the available resources we have. I believe we should think of how to use that amount of money to help the displaced people, we should think of how to resolve the issue of famine and we need part of that money to be injected on the National Dialogue,” Kolok said.

He said the civil society organizations recently learnt of inadequate funds for smooth process of the National Dialogue.

“Obviously, we don’t know how much the government is having at the moment. But of recent we learnt of some concerns that the government had no money for the smooth implementation of the National Dialogue. That is why the civil servants and soldiers are not paid for several months,” he said.

“What we are asking ourselves is whether it is timely to allocate that money for these roads or is appropriate to address some of these emerging concerns that citizens are facing,” he continued.

By Sworo Charles Elisha



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