Western Equatoria launches volunteer road crew
6 March 2012 – Striving to maintain existing routes and extend its limited road network, Western Equatoria State launched a volunteer "Road Maintenance Crew" today in the capital Yambio.
Organized by the state Ministry of Physical Infrastructure, the 367-member crew will be deployed to camps in five of the state's 10 counties (Mundri West, Maridi, Ibba, Yambio and Nzara), where they will maintain roads with hand tools.
In opening remarks, Minister for Physical Infrastructure Boutros Alison Magaya said the crew aimed to administer a community-based maintenance system, focusing on the road corridor Mundri-Yambio-Diabio.
"The road camps will enable us to maintain our existing road network in a ... cost-efficient manner and repair it more rapidly," Minister Magaya said. "We came up with the idea of establishing a Road Maintenance Crew based on volunteerism in order to alleviate the problem of shortage of funds."
He added that the work would create seasonal opportunities for youth and encourage them to directly participate in state reconstruction. It would also improve overall security by opening up areas to police and other personnel.
"It is truly a landmark event for the state and will enable it to use its available resources properly," the minister said.
Noting that the road crew was the first of its kind in South Sudan, state Governor Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro encouraged youth to work hard when they deployed to counties.
"All youth should consider themselves as part and parcel of the government, and they should understand that there is no development without their involvement," the governor said." Roads are vital for development and security and we must maintain and build our roads by ourselves using existing resources."
Governor Bakasoro urged international organizations and development partners to provide tools and other equipment to crew members, as his government was unable to send enough to the counties.
Paramount Chief Wilson Gbduwe, chairman of the state Traditional Leaders Authority, encouraged volunteers to perform their tasks properly. "We should maintain the roads ... because they are ours and we are the ones who are going to use them."
On behalf of the road crew, Alfred Karaba pledged that its members would work hard. "We are committed to successfully perform our assignment according to the plan of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure," he said.
The state has established 16 road crew camps in five counties to date, and will continue to set them up in its remaining five counties, according to ministry officials.