Pibor residents upbeat after rehabilitation of area airstrip by Korean UN peacekeepers

Back in business: A passenger aircraft at the newly rehabilitated Pibor airstrip

12 Jan 2020

Pibor residents upbeat after rehabilitation of area airstrip by Korean UN peacekeepers

Mach Samuel

A bottle of water retails at 200 South Sudanese pounds or SSP (just under $1) in Boma area’s Pibor town. But that is a smaller matter. To get any kind of medical service, each member of the area’s impoverished population must have no less than 30,000 SSP ($100).

“Even soda sells at 500 SSP. All commodities now have become expensive. A kilogram of sugar now is 1000 SSP and maize flour is 1000SSP per one kilogram,” lamented Pibor town resident, Zulpa Alfadi Ngacho.

Recent flooding in the area had complicated things even further, compounding an already difficult situation in this war-ravaged part of South Sudan. The floods submerged the Pibor airstrip and cut off roads linking it to Bor and the South Sudanese capital, Juba, effectively making it impossible for commodities to come into town.

Now though, Ngacho might have a reason to smile, as UN peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea, serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), have been rehabilitating and expanding the Pibor airstrip. This, Ngacho hopes, will result in a drop in prices because the newly rehabilitated airstrip has allowed the resumption of air transportation of more commodities to the area.

“No food can reach Pibor without the airstrip,” said Ngacho, reflecting on the significance of the peacekeepers’ work upon completion of the airstrip rehabilitation works.

With no road transportation expected until at least May or June 2020, the airstrip is the lifeline of the people of Boma.

The newly upgraded and extended three-kilometre airstrip now allows cargo and passenger flights to land almost every day, changing life in the area for the better.