Sudan: UN convoy arrives in Juba from Khartoum by road

JUBA, Sudan, April 26, (Gurtong) - For the first time in over twenty years a United Nations (UN) convoy arrived in the south Sudan capital on Wednesday evening after a six day drive through the vast wilderness separating Juba from Khartoum.

The UN, which is accustomed to flying humanitarian materials and personnel between the two capitals of Africa's largest country, ran separate operations for the north and south of the country during its 21 years of civil war. The conflict ended in Jan. 2005 with the signing of a peace agreement between the two sides.

"It was not totally encouraging," said Benjamin Wielgosz who works with the UN Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC), which organized the long haul trip from north to south. "Nothing is going to move in the rainy season for a few years, there were places where the roads would just dissolve into lakes," he added. "We got a little bit lost at one point," said Wielgosz, "we took the wrong road, but we're still not sure what the right road would have been".

The UN team also found that many of the bridges necessary for the route over seasonal rivers were broken after decades without maintenance. Demining operations are also slowing down the rehabilitation of roads he said.

The UNJLC, who constructed a flyover over the south Sudan route before attempting the 2,200 km journey, did the drive as part of their efforts to map the roads through the wilds of south Sudan. "There hasn't been a survey for so long that existing maps are doubtful," said Wielgosz about the south.

He described the trip as exhausting and said that a lot of structures would need to be put in place before the UN could return some of the estimated 3 million people displaced norht by conflict back to Juba and surrounding areas by road.

Markets and shops in the capital are currently largely served from Uganda and Kenya and much of the humanitarian materials needed for the south are still flown in from Lokichoggio in northern Kenya.

"It would be cheaper if we had a good north-south connection," said Wielgosz., "the overarching idea is to get the infrastructure to the point whereby people can easily move things by truck, create good north-south links."

Activities : Land
Type of document : Update
Country : SD SDN 736 Sudan, Democratic Republic of the
Location : South-Sudan
Publication date 2007-Apr-27