Local road repairs by Bangladeshi peacekeepers give Yambio residents hope of economic boost
Trade in Yambio is expected to receive a boost soon, thanks to the rehabilitation work currently ongoing on a nine-kilometer feeder road within the Western Equatorian town.
The repairs are being undertaken by Bangladeshi engineers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“Compared to the massive repairs undertaken by the mission’s engineers on main supply routes across South Sudan, this is a smaller project. It aims to help local communities living in Yambio,” says Christopher Murenga, Head of the mission’s Field Office in the state.
“As peacekeepers deployed to Western Equatoria State, we are part of the social fabric in Yambio and are very conversant with the daily struggles that people go through here, especially farmers and traders, who need to be able to travel from one place to another,” he elaborates.
Market access for farm produce, therefore, is one of the key areas that this initiative addresses.
Wilson Ragoyo, a trader who plies his wares at the town’s local market, looks forward to the completion of the repair work, in about a month’s time.
“Good roads are a trader’s lifeblood,” states Wilson. “Often, by the time I’m able to get my wares to the market, it’s very late. My business has suffered a lot because transport is so difficult when road conditions are poor.”
“I hope UNMISS extends its rehabilitation plans to roads connecting Tambura, Mundri and Mvolo as well,” he adds.
Wilson’s wishes are echoed by Mr. Murenga. “We are working to find partners so that we are able to thoroughly repair all local roads,” he reveals. “Western Equatoria is the breadbasket, so to speak, for South Sudan. We’re all aware that farm produce has a very limited shelf life. Improving roads here will provide a much-needed economic boost to the state.”
Alfred Futuyo Karaba, the state Governor, agrees. “We are hopeful that UNMISS will conduct more local-level road repairs to make sure that citizens can reap the benefits of unfettered access, because roads here haven’t been maintained since 2010.”
Perhaps the simplest and most evocative endorsement for the peacekeeping mission’s initiative came from Emmanuel Gbatasuwe a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) rider in Yambio.
“I am really happy because I often transport people who are sick and need medical care. Better roads will help me make sure that these customers get the help they need on time.”