UNMISS engineers construct 307 kilometer road, boost peaceful coexistence, development
JONGLEI – When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, its infrastructure left much to be desired, especially roadways.
Over the years, lack of proper roads has disrupted daily life, made it difficult for peacekeepers to protect civilians in crisis, and often made it impossible for humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable, especially during the country’s long rainy season.
To ensure that this year, the rains do not impact communities adversely, South Korean engineers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), have recently completed a 307-kilometer road connecting Bor, Akobo, Pibor and Gumuruk.
Peacekeepers began construction in November 2022 and took four months to complete this stretch.
The impact on people is tangible.
“I am hopeful that this road will enable traders to have easy access to markets,” said Rebecca Nyapet Puok, a woman leader from Akobo, who also adds she believes that the road is a beacon of hope for communities.
“The more we can convene and connect, the more we understand each other. Peace and development are two sides of the same coin and we are grateful to our international friends for helping us through such construction efforts,” she added.
Rebecca’s remarks are poignant and timely, as South Sudan tackles the twin challenges of ongoing conflict and climate change.
For his part, Yonis Dhal Koangthoor, Chair, Akobo Youth League, good roads can lead to reduced crime.
“The more people feel safe, the less they will resort to crime and conflict,” he said passionately.
“Having good roads enable law enforcement personnel to proactively deter criminality; trade and commerce receive a boost; economic stability begins to prevail; and violence, especially against women and children, is reduced,” he continued.
Mr Koangthoor’s endorsement was received with gratitude by Lieutenant-Colonel Kim Yong Man, during the inauguration of the newly completed road.
“For the past 10 years, peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea have been serving for sustained peace in South Sudan,” stated the Lieutenant-Colonel.
“We are overwhelmed that this project has so much support from community members,” he added.
For Acting Governor of Jonglei, Jacob Akech Dengdit, such efforts should inspire communities, especially young people, to embrace peace.
“South Sudan has suffered a lot and it is time we leave behind our differences and work together to improve social cohesion, trade relations and amity. It is time to say no to violence,” said the Deputy Governor.
Geetha Pious, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Jonglei, agreed.
“This is a road for peace, convening and connecting communities across Greater Jonglei. For us as UNMISS, we are hopeful that this road will contribute towards sustainable development in the region,” averred Ms Pious.