Magwi, the food-rich area, forgotten in major road projects
Roads make a crucial contribution to economic growth and development for the communities living in the country.
As part of the wider infrastructure, people rely on roads for the movement of goods and services. They also bring important social benefits to the citizens such as education and health services as they make such services more accessible.
Much applause goes to President Salva Kiir for setting aside oil proceeds to pay for the construction of the roads in the country.
During his address to the nation to mark the 10th anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, President Kiir said: “We have dedicated 20,000 barrels a day of the Nile Blend Crude for construction of major highways and roads linking production areas with consumption centers in our major cities and towns.”
He said presently among those under construction include the Juba-Bor Highway, Juba-Torit- Nadapal Highway, Juba-Rumbek-Bahr El-Ghazal Highway, Juba-Yei road, and Juba-Mundri-Maridi-Tambura Highway.
It is a very positive approach that the government has taken to enable the citizens to reap the dividend of peace because the presence of roads in an area comes with a lot of positive development.
Apart from physical development, it helps to improve the security in the area. It enables the farmers to transport their produce to the market. These products in turn generate income for the household farmers as well as promoting food security.
Need to do more
However, some of the potential areas of agriculture neighboring the capital, Juba, have been bypassed out of these major road construction projects that the government is undertaking.
The Magwi road that connects onto the Juba-Nimule highway has not been mentioned yet. Magwi County remains one of the areas with immense agricultural potential.
To simplify this, the area supplies Juba with fresh organic foods such as maize, cassava, sugar cane, potatoes, and varieties of vegetables.
Since the outbreak of the December 2013 conflict, other areas such as Yei, Kajo Keji, and the entire Western Equatoria State have not been able to supply food to the market in Juba due to the conflict that has forced the communities to flee to Uganda and D.R.C.
This time, Magwi County has persistently continued to supply food to Juba throughout these five years of conflicts despite the numerous attacks on the Juba-Nimule road.
Therefore, after proving so reliable, the government should have considered the Magwi road that links to the Juba-Nimule highway in the projects being undertaken.
It may not be one of the highways but it is greatly contributing to the food security in Juba, adding to the bulk of food items being imported from Uganda.
The residents in Magwi County are presently completely cut off from Juba due to the heavy rain that washed away the Amee bridge.
This was the only reliable road that connects the Acholi area to the Juba-Nimule tarmac road. People are now forced to travel via Trorit road to get to Juba which is very costly in terms of transport.
Therefore, the government needs to rehabilitate this road. Although it was once repaired by the government of the Kingdoms of the Netherland, the heavy trucks that used to transport logs from the area have completely spoilt the road and fresh recarpeting is necessary.
Indeed, the Magwi road is not the only one that needs to be repaired but food production areas have to be prioritized if we are to stop importing basic foods food from neighboring countries.