Bridge repair by Thai peacekeeping engineers provides a lifeline for communities in Lakes region
A simple task of meshing together metal pallets and bars to repair a broken bridge has provided a lifeline for communities in the Lakes region of South Sudan, enabling traders to travel more easily and ensuring humanitarian relief reaches families in need.
“The bridge is far more important than it looks,” said Andelin Lulu, a community leader in Wako. “It’s the only link between us and supplies from Juba. Without it, we will have no medical and humanitarian relief or business supplies.”
The bridge was repaired by Thai engineers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in partnership with the World Food Programme. The work is just one part of a much bigger roading rehabilitation project being carried out by the Thai contingent across the Lakes region as part of their role to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and to help build peace.
“We have taken responsibility for working on selected roads that we call main supply routes, and this is just one of them,” said Kwame Dwamena Aboagye, the head of the UNMISS Field Office in Rumbek. “Every year, after the rainy season, we repair these roads for government and commercial usage as well as for humanitarian agencies who use it to deliver all kinds of support to the South Sudanese people.”
Local businessman John Mandekere said the bridge repair will enable him to travel to buy and sell merchandise much more easily.
“When the road was bad, we could spend five days on a single return journey to Rumbek town. This made transportation costs higher and consequently forced us to sell our merchandise at a very high price. People could not buy this expensive merchandise because they are poor. Now with the repaired road, you can go to Rumbek in the morning and come back the same day,” he said.
For Andelin Lulu, access to health services is another challenge that the repair of the bridge has helped to solve.
“Women have been losing their children during the birthing process because the only health center we have is miles away in Wulu. Now we can reach the medical center more quickly, even when travelling on a boda boda (motorcycle).”