VP Gai inspects Juba, Freedom bridges

VP Gai inspects Juba, Freedom bridges
Taban Deng Gai, Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster (photo credit: Anadolu Agerncy)

The Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster, Taban Deng Gai, has inspected the Freedom and Juba bridges to assess the progress leading to their completion.

Gai noted progress on the country’s two major bridges, saying their functionality was vital for the country’s economic development.

Mr Gai noted that Freedom Bridge would be one of the biggest achievements and historical developments for the country’s government since independence if completed.

Gai made the statement during his tour of the two projects on Thursday in Juba.

“The bridge is going to ease communication within South Sudan and parts of Uganda, especially in the eastern and western parts of the country,” he said.

Gai added: “It is going to boost a lot of economic activity for Juba City and other areas of Western Equatoria State, Bahr el Ghazal, and Upper Nile regions.”

However, he stressed the need to maintain the old bridge (Juba Bridge), arguing that even if the new one is inaugurated next year, the former will still be in use.

The VP urged the contactor to maintain the Juba Bridge to attract investors to the country.

“We shall still maintain the old bridge because it can also be used by tourists. So, we have to maintain it. Please do not overload the trucks, ” he appealed.

He emphasised that there was a need for South Sudanese to prioritise peace and stability so that development could be fast-paced.

“What we want is peace. Let us maintain peace, let us love our country, ” he said, adding that the government had planned more projects.

 “We want to have some more bridges from the south of Juba up to Ruweng so that the whole country is connected,” he said.

More projects mooted

Meanwhile, the Minister of Roads and Bridges, Simon Mijok Mijak, said the government has set plans to build bridges and roads across the country in the coming years.

“We have already built another bridge in Wau, and our visibility studies are already in Malakal to see the site of the next bridge to come up,” he stated.

The Freedom Bridge was constructed with support from the government of Japan and was named after the independence of South Sudan.

The construction started in 2013, but the outbreak of conflict later that same year prevented its progress. After the resumption of work in 2015, it had to stop again for the second time due to the July 2016 fighting in Juba, which led to the evacuation of all JICA’s staff from the country.

In 2018, JICA staff came back to Juba to continue with the project following little improvement in the security situation.

The JICA’s implementing companies, CTI Engineering International Co. Ltd., and Dai Nippon Construction (DNC), resumed the construction work on the Freedom Bridge in May this year (2019) after two years of suspension.

As things stand, the bridge is expected to be completed in the middle of the year 2022 if the stability remains as of now.