JONGLEI - South Korean engineers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have begun rehabilitating the road connecting Jonglei state with the neighboring Greater Pibor Administrative Area.
The main aim of the project: To boost trade, enable communities to convene and connect with each other and build peace by enhancing regional integration.
"I cannot emphasize the importance of this road," said Ading Alier, head of the cattle auction center in Bor. "It has helped my family survive South Sudan's economic situation. Once UNMISS peacekeepers finish their repair works I will be able to travel to Pibor, buy livestock and drive them back to Bor. This will greatly boost my income."
Livestock breeding and selling is part of the tapestry of income-generating activities in the greater Jonglei region. It plays a complex role---it is a source of livelihoods for many, a driver of conflict and negatively impacted by conflict itself. The latter two roles are often connected by a vicious, oft-repeated cycle of violence.
Besides business and trade, the rehabilitated road is expected to promote social cohesion as well as stabilize prices of essential commodities. "Here in Pibor market one kilogram of sugar sells at 1000 South Sudanese Pounds which is approximately $ 2.5. Inflation is killing us slowly and this road symbolizes our hope that regional trade will increase, enabling us to sell and buy the things we need at an affordable rate," Korok Logochom, a retailer in Pibor revealed.
The road rehabilitation has begun from Mareng boma, which lies a few kilometers east of Bor town. South Korean peacekeepers are expected to repair some 183 kilometers of this crucial route. The value of their hard labor under harsh conditions and terrain is probably best summed up by Mary Ajoh Deng, a resident of Mareng.
"For women, this wide road, once repaired by South Korean engineers, will enable us to move freely and without fear of any attacks, rapes or sexually-motivated violence. The high level of traffic will prevent miscreants from any form of gender-based violence. We will be able to improve our economic conditions and participate in community life fully," she stated.
Another benefit: Communities who need assistance the most will most certainly get help as the revamped road will be a secure corridor for humanitarian partners to deliver aid packages and engage with people.
South Korean peacekeepers continue to engage with communities across the greater Jonglei region to build trust and confidence. Over the years Blue Helmets from South Korea have provided free medical camps, distributed scholastic materials to schoolchildren, renovated schools, and supported state authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic by handing over ambulances and equipment. They also constructed an outpatient department for Bor State Hospital.
The current repair works began mid-November and are expected to be completed by the end of the year.