Sudan: Light vehicle convoy from Khartoum to Juba - Apr 2007

Situation Report
Originally published



In April of 2007, UNJLC organized and led a light vehicle convoy of six vehicles with twelve participants (two UNJLC vehicles, two WFP vehicles, one UNDSS vehicle and one War Child vehicle) from Khartoum to Juba. This convoy was a preliminary step in the South Sudan Resident Coordinator's Office's on-going efforts to explore the potential for overland travel throughout South Sudan in the Dry and Wet seasons, in order to increase the efficiency and cost of operations in the region. The convoy's objectives were to transport additional vehicles to Juba facilities, conduct a preliminary survey of overland travel options between northern and southern Sudan, assess limitations on infrastructure and logistics, conduct GPS road mapping, and perform a basic security assessment.

Basic Itinerary:

April 20th - April 25th
20th Khartoum -El Obeid: 627km [7am-5pm]
21st El Obeid-El Muglad: 451km [7am-7pm]
22nd El Muglad-Aweil: 341km [7am-6pm]
23rd Aweil-Wau: 154km [7am-3pm]
24th Wau-Rumbek: 230km [7am-1pm]
25th Rumbek-Juba: 423km [7am-7pm]
Total: 2260km in 6 days.

Preparation and Planning:

It is critical that any convoy movement be planned solely for the dry season. The planning process should take into account two main considerations:

1) In all except the northernmost leg of travel, all roads are dirt roads and frequently constructed from unsuitable soils. These roads are highly degraded with every successive rainy season and even those rehabilitated in the preceding dry season are likely to be un-drivable or only drivable at very limited speed (20km/hour).

2) River crossing points are almost universally impassable in the rainy season due to the rising waters. Rivers will generally not be passable until 6 to 8 weeks after the end of the rainy season. The implication is that overland travel between Khartoum and Juba should only be attempted between the end of October and the beginning of May. Agency fuel facilities such as those of UNMIS and WFP should be contacted in advance of convoys to ensure supplies, availability and cooperation.

Fuel is a serious consideration. All vehicles should carry full double tanks and 80 litres of reserve in jerry-cans. Fuel stations are few and far between in Kordofan and Bahr El Ghazal making it critical that all convoy vehicles have sufficient reserves to travel between known fuelling points, in this case El Obeid and Aweil. Fuel bought at trucking stops such as Meiram may be watered down, resulting in fuel-filtering problems that require road side installation of a new fuel filter.

Vehicle Maintenance should be planned for. Even brand new vehicles are likely to require spot repairs on this journey. Two spare tires, tire irons, jack, spare oil and fuel filters, a spare belt, basic tools, motor oil, coolant, and other contingent parts should be carried for each vehicle. It is also advisable to have a trained mechanic as a member of the convoy who can take charge of this aspect of planning before departure.

Each individual member of the convoy must be personally responsible for their food and water. While food and water may be available en-route, the quality and frequency is limited at times. In addition to six days of food and water, individuals should plan for vehicle breakdown or other emergency situations that may require extended time in the desert without immediate support. Accommodation is similarly restricted. Each individual should bring a tent, light sleeping bag, sleeping mat, mosquito net, two torches, lighter and all personal items required for camping. Guest houses are available in some major towns along the route but not all, making this equipment a necessity for contingency situations. Similarly, sufficient personal cash should be carried by each individual to cover food and accommodation costs along the route.

Security and communications should be planned for in reference to MOSS compliance. Radios, satellite phones and a support network and daily report system connecting to Khartoum and Juba should be implemented. UXO/mines are prevalent along much of the route through South Sudan. All members of any convoy should have completed advanced security in the field prior to departure. A security meeting should be held for all members before departure to review communications and current security concerns.