UN peacekeepers fix main supply route in Western Equatoria State, gives access to markets and schools
Driving the 230 km between Yambio and Mundri in Western Equatoria State typically takes two days, but things are about to change, for the better. Bangladeshi engineering troops serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan are currently rehabilitating this main supply route.
“When it is impassable, as it was for a significant portion of last year, it can take months to get supplies and prices of commodities skyrocket. Repairing the road will greatly improve access to several communities and thus make life easier for everyone,” says Christopher Murenga, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Yambio.
The Bangladeshi troops began their work in January. They are expected to reach Yambio at some point in May, which will greatly facilitate the work of peacekeepers and humanitarians as well.
The progress made so far is already benefitting thousands of people.
“Big thanks to UNMISS. Now I can ride my motorcycle between Mambe and Maridi in one hour and a half instead of three or even four hours,” said Richard Enoka, a local making good use of the much-improved stretch of road.
The peacekeeping mission is also funding the construction of a new bridge in Maridi, which will improve access to the village of Kuwanga, renowned for its rich agricultural output.
Agnes Leila, a Kuwanga resident, can’t wait for the bridge to be in place.
“This stream has been a problem for so long. When it’s full we can’t cross it, our produce can’t be transported, and our children can’t go to school. We have even lost some children to the stream,” she said.
Henry Fraser, a fellow Kuwanga resident, points out another great advantage to come.
“It will be important for the health of women about to deliver babies, as ambulances will be able to reach our area,” he said.
Road rehabilitation projects in Western Equatoria State will benefit internally displaced persons and refugees as well, according to Mr. Murenga.
“One of the key things we are looking for, a crucial peace dividend, is the safe and dignified return of these people to their homes. A better road infrastructure will no doubt help us make this happen.”