12 October 2011 – Although they live in one of the main South Sudanese oil-producing states, ongoing fuel shortages have kept residents of the Upper Nile capital in the dark for the past three months.
"Three months without electricity and fuel is very frustrating," said Malakal resident Paulino Taban. "All the developmental activities are paralyzed. This is a major concern but it seems nobody cares. In the end ordinary citizens are the ones most affected by this situation."
According to the State Ministry of Physical Infrastructure, the city's South Sudan Electricity Corporation can no longer function effectively.
The low fuel supply in stock is reportedly reserved to provide power for essential needs like Malakal Teaching Hospital and a water point at Muderia.
Public transport and the trucking business are also barely surviving due to high fuel prices, interrupting the movement of people, food and other commodities.
"The prices of fuel have skyrocketed because businessmen are getting it from smugglers and shipment is limited," said Barnaba Kong, a Malakal petroleum station owner. "A gallon ofbenzene, which was 13 South Sudan pounds, has risen to 120 pounds. This is 10 times higher than it was before independence (on 9 July)."
Director General of Upper Nile Ministry of Physical Infrastructure William Ajang said they had high hopes of receiving a new fuel shipment from Sudan, although he was reluctant to give a date for its arrival.
"As we are waiting for the fuel shipment, the state authorities are working hard to fix six generators, which will supply the town with electricity as soon we receive the fuel," said Mr. Ajang.
Before South Sudanese independence, fuel shipments to Upper Nile came from the north (now Sudan). After secession, Sudan imposed an economic embargo on the new republic, restricting the movement and quantities of essential commodities into the state, including fuel.
The border between the two countries currently remains closed, with no viable economic activities between the two nations.
The state government has called for calm as they resolve the shortages.