Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

South Sudan’s post war reconstruction dilemma

By Roba Gibia

Feb 3, 2007 — It has become a world’s norm that after every war there is “reconstruction conference”, where donors converge to share the burden of physical infrastructure restoration, but comfort of victims and soul rehabilitation has got very little or no concentration from international community, which in my view is indispensable like infrastructure. In south Sudan’s case it is utterly different or almost unique, as there was very petite or no basic infrastructure to be rebuilt, but rather total edifice of fundamental physical infrastructure. And indeed, more than two decade war had dismantled and destroyed instead the entire soul infrastructure of South Sudan inhabitants, which indeed require physiotherapy through reconciliation and healing of wounds to restore everyone’s dignity. Thus, the building of south Sudan doesn’t constitute field of physical infrastructure only but an inclusive construction, whether being human resources in terms of education or economical and social empowerment, is the key or primary aspect to the advance of south. But the continued escalation of violence in Darfur, has got a negative impact on south Sudan’s reconstruction and donors’ dilemma in honoring their pledge.

The challenges facing south Sudan’s construction are enormous, lack of experts, skilled labor, qualified cadre in various fields, apt planning and prioritization and the allocated fund management! Why planning and prioritization, because the success of any project depends on its planning, as after assessment and feasibility study, the planners have to take into consideration, the short and long term projects which has to be accomplished based on its inevitability value, importance and execution duration. And the project commencement requires preparation and availability of construction materials and equipments at project site to catch the scheduled deadline. All these require thoroughly and candid sequel from the concerned authorities and departments. There is no doubt that South has got some highly experienced and qualified officials at the top of pyramid, but that is not enough to ensure the steady and timely execution of projects or job done. As there is need to the middle and lower qualified personnel which are responsible to the execution of the job, and this is what south lacks very much. And despite the fact that south has got twenty-four functional ministries, but yet not in its full capacity. As there are still some key and junior positions yet to be filled as well as establishment of some various and essential government departments which has got direct and great role in the south Sudan construction.

South Sudan’s development is a long term process and requires appropriate approach and genuine business with joint and synchronized efforts from various angles, because the divergent growth can’t be achieved even within a decade, taking into consideration the vast area of south and non-existence of infrastructure, but the most important aspect here is to get it on motion, and will reach its maturity once the entire government institutions were in place. And that is apparently what we are seeing now in Juba, as since formation of the south Sudan government in September 2005, the Juba town still remains in its ragged and old gown. This is in fact either due to the lack of concerned government and town council authority determination or lack of appraisal and fund allocation for the construction of government seat. And it is incredible that today Juba remains without adequate healthcare centers, and all high government officials were receiving their medication from neighboring countries on the expenses of GOSS. Thus, it is imperative to expedite renovation of Juba hospital and establishment of other healthcare centers with modern equipments, which was supposed to be executed on priority basis! As it is worth mentioning here that in March 2006, the GOSS signed a contract worth $192 million with Chinese, Kenyan and two Ugandan companies to build offices and houses for government, rehabilitation of Juba hospital and building infrastructure for sanitary and water supply in Juba.

South Sudan is the most distant and poorest area on the surface of earth, whether being in the terms of transport and telecommunication network, as there is no single passable road in south. And this is the most influential factor retarding the region’s development, as a foreign investor wouldn’t dare to dam his/her money into such an inaccessible area without consistent communication network! As to attract foreign investors, there should be at least viable transportation and communication network and stabilized security situation for business prosperity, and even the local investors or small individual owned private sectors were impaired by lack of communication network or physical infrastructure. The ten southern states are detached from each other and particularly some distant rural areas, where people are desperately in need of healthcare centers and clean drinking water. Leave alone that, but the so-called capital cities of the ten states, counties and payams have no hospitals and healthcare centers, and people are dying of diseases which are curable and lack of facilities even for minor operations. This is the looming south Sudan reconstruction feature, while the entire South Sudan inhabitants are living under the mercy of God and, the government of south Sudan is in a deplorable situation, as the fitness comes first in every aspect because it is the pillar or key for any development. In other words, unless there is healthy manpower, there will be no development. And these are the major challenges facing south Sudan’s construction or reconstruction, and it requires concerted efforts from both governments of national unity and south Sudan as well as government of southern states to reach to the bottom line of this predicament. And unless south Sudan infrastructure is built, there wouldn’t be any tangible transformation in the life of south Sudanese populace.

It is worth noting that, President Bashir has made lots of pledges to Sudanese people in general and particularly south Sudanese that all the money which used to be geared on war will be diverted to construction and the war torn areas. And during his visit to Rumbek last year 2006, President Bashir promised to build Rumbek senior secondary school, University, teaching hospital and construction of roads from Kharotum-Bentiu and Bentiu-Rumbek, as a peace dividend and to make the unity of the country attractive to Southerners. But it seems this was merely a political maneuver and metaphor, because as this date there is no sign of commencement for such ambitious projects at the horizon.

The south Sudan’s post war reconstruction dilemma is due to the improper management of south Sudan’s oil share money, and that was evidential in the current corruption issue which is trembling the government of south Sudan, inadequate fund as claimed by GOSS and which has been faulted on donors for not honoring their pledge on one hand, and on the other the World Bank was saying that south has got enough money to build south Sudan’s fundamental infrastructure which contradicts GOSS stance. Thus, here emerges the role of transparency, good governance and South Sudan Legislative Assembly’s liability in supervising and managing south Sudan reconstruction and development fund. As according to south Sudan constitution, the Legislative Assembly is responsible in overseeing the performance of GOSS, summon ministers to answer questions of members and approve plans, programs and policies of the south Sudan government. Then, where is the role of South Sudan Legislative Assembly at the current crisis of public fund mismanagement and South Sudan’s post war reconstruction! And it is worth reciting here that in his recent BBC interview President Bashir slapped SPLM leadership fidelity, and said boldly that “they demand development in the south although they receive their share of the oil revenues which should be used in development and services in southern Sudan and not as pocket money for SPLM leaders”, and this is outrageous and one of serious south Sudan construction quandaries.

* Roba Gibia is a Sudan Tribune columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]