April 27, 2011 (JUBA) - The US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has earmarked five million dollars for the development of South Sudan’s regional capital, Juba, its mayor has revealed.
The donation, according to the mayor Mohamed Alhaj Baballa, will mainly be used to boost areas like security, rule of law and the environment. Juba County currently consists of 16 payams (districts).
In the past few months, however, the city has been in the spotlight, with local residents reporting cases of robberies, killing and harassment mainly within the city’s suburbs. However, state authorities, working in collaboration with the police, recently stepped up efforts to restore law and order in the affected areas.
“We shall also use part of this money to transform Juba into a modern city. As leaders we feel improving service delivery in society remains our key responsibility to the population who contribute to our revenues through tax payments,” the recently appointed mayor observed.
The plans to develop the once war-ravaged city, its mayor added, will further encompass the participation of both local and international organizations, civil society entities and existing stakeholders.
Already put in place, Baballa revealed, is the city council’s move to review all the current contracts that have been awarded to the various service providers in the city, especially those undertaking clean-up exercises. The council is the highest decision making body within the city.
“Members of the city council are set to review all the contracts signed for purposes of keeping Juba clean. In this case, only companies that are found to be in conformity with the law will be allowed to operate,” he said, adding that, “Those who will not comply with the law will have their contracts cancelled.”
In February 2011 just after the South voted in a referendum to become independent South Sudan’s council of ministers announced that it had decided to relocate the capital Juba to a “befitting” new location elsewhere in the South.
At the time the minister of information and official spokesman of the government, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told the press that the “new capital would befit the new state of South Sudan.” He said the decision was not against any community or authority, but in the interest of the new nation.
He said two competing locations have been proposed for study before the government could choose one as a federal territory in which it will build the new capital. One of the proposed locations is an area which straddles four states; the north-eastern part of Central Equatoria, north-western part of Eastern Equatoria, south western part of Jonglei and south eastern part of Lakes state.
Another proposed location for the capital is Ramciel, which officials say is the geographic center of South Sudan has been the choice of SPLM – the former rebels who now govern South Sudan. It is located in north-eastern part of Lakes state, near the border with Unity state to the North and Jonglei state to the East.
Founded in 1994 as William H. Gates Foundation, and renamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation five years later, the organization is "driven by the interests and passions of the Gates family".
The foundation, according to its website, seeks to globally enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is controlled by its three trustees; Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
In 2007, its founders were reportedly ranked as the second most generous philanthropists in America.