Deputy Information Minister Dr. Jacob Maiju Korok briefing the press. (File Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

Cabinet forms flood preparedness committee

South Sudan announced emergency preparedness on Friday in anticipation of severe flooding, as water levels in Lake Victoria, a source of the Nile, have reached a record high.

South Sudan announced emergency preparedness on Friday in anticipation of severe flooding, as water levels in Lake Victoria, a source of the Nile, have reached a record high.

Addressing reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Deputy Minister of Information Jacob Maiju Korok said South Sudan has formed a committee to mitigate the flood risk.

“The committee’s task is to develop emergency preparedness plans, including a budget. Once their work is complete, they will submit their recommendations and budget to the council of ministers,” Maiju said.

The committee includes the ministers of water resources and irrigation, environment, and humanitarian affairs and disaster management.

Last week, South Sudanese Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation Pal Mai Deng reported receiving information from Uganda that Lake Victoria’s water levels have risen by 13.6 meters, a record high in the Nile Basin region in 128 years. This rise has also affected the water level in a dam in Jinja, Uganda.

The minister warned that the resulting flooding could be more severe than the floods of 2019, 2021, and 2022, potentially affecting up to five million people.

Maiju also mentioned that the cabinet reviewed a memo from Justice Minister Ruben Madol Arol on a general cooperation agreement between the governments of South Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Maiju also reported on a cooperation agreement signed on January 24, 2022, in Riyadh. The agreement was signed by Mayik Ayii, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, representing South Sudan, and the Saudi Foreign Minister, representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“The purpose of the agreement is to strengthen the friendship between the two countries and their people, and to develop bilateral cooperation in areas such as science, technology, agriculture, media, tourism, youth, and sports,” Maiju said.

The cabinet also reviewed a memo from Madut Biar, Minister of Transport, addressing challenges in implementing the Juba River Port project. Funded by a $38 million grant from the Japanese government through JICA, the project aims to construct and equip Juba River Port with modern facilities but faces land-related issues.

“There are two main challenges. First, there are government personnel within the project site who resisted relocation efforts. The transport minister brought this issue to the council for guidance,” Maiju said.

“The second issue involves plots within the project site that have been allotted to individuals. These cases are currently in court, and the council decided to wait for the court’s resolution,” he noted.

Funds for Paris Olympics

Deputy Minister Jacob Maiju Korok announced that the council of ministers approved $9 million for South Sudan’s basketball team to participate in the July Olympics in Paris, France.

“Dr. Joseph Geng Akec, Minister of Youth and Sports, presented a memo on South Sudan’s national basketball team for the Paris Olympics in July. He proposed a budget of $9 million to cover the team’s expenses and delegation traveling to the Olympic Games in Paris,” he explained.

“The council of ministers approved the $9 million and instructed the finance minister to secure the necessary resources to support our team for this significant event,” Maiju added.

Funding for road project

The Deputy Information Minister also provided updates on the construction of the Juba–Kapoeta–Nadapal road during the cabinet briefing.

He stated that South Sudan and Kenya made progress in discussions regarding the road link, with the exception of a dispute over an 11-kilometer stretch near Nadapal.

“Our Minister of Roads and Bridges, along with his Kenyan counterpart, recently resolved the dispute. Now, South Sudan is seeking financing from the World Bank to commence construction of the road from Nadapal to Juba,” he said.

“Kenya has completed its section, so now the remaining challenge is securing funding. The government is seeking financial assistance from the World Bank,” he added.

Maiju emphasized that upon completion, the project will facilitate import-export activities, enhancing trade between Kenya and South Sudan. “Currently, we rely on the Juba-Nimule road for importing and exporting goods from Uganda. Opening this road will streamline the flow of goods from Kenya directly to South Sudan, potentially easing congestion in Nimule,” he concluded.