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JONGLEI - 29 Mar 2023

Governor Denay reverses order evicting Bor women vendors

Women selling vegetables in a market in South Sudan. (File photo)
Women selling vegetables in a market in South Sudan. (File photo)

Jonglei State Governor Denay Jock Chagor on Monday issued an order cancelling the eviction by former Bor town mayor Samuel Ateny of a businesswomen group from a section of the main market in Bor town.

The governor’s decision comes after days of uneasy calm over a land ownership row between Bor municipality and the women's group, which saw deputy governor Jacob Akech Dengdit suspending the state lands minister for issuing an order awarding the disputed land to the latter.

Tensions between Bor municipality and women vegetable sellers started a month ago after the former mayor relocated the women to a new site, a decision vehemently rejected by the vegetable sellers.

 “On Monday, the governor issued several decrees including the sacking of the Bor mayor and reinstatement of the lands minister, “Mahmoud Chuol, the director-general at the state information ministry, told radio Tamazuj, adding: “The state governor also issued a decree banning any sell of lands within Bor town and that anyone awarded land by former mayor must reclaim their monies.”

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Monday, Abuk Garang Ateny, a representative of the affected women, said they are happy that justice is now served after months of running battles with the municipality.

“As women, we are happy. The governor gave us back the land, and he said that he needs four days to remove the materials brought by the investor who grabbed our land and also to fill the holes dug during the construction works,” she said.

The women's representative, however, called on the government and aid agencies to come to their support so that they could operate effectively.

“Since our eviction and subsequent demolition of our structures, more than 400 women were affected. We just sell in the open by the roadside. Although we now reclaimed the ownership, the place is demolished,” she said.

“It was constructed for us by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). We call on well-wishers to help us because we have not been making profits since our eviction. Our children are out of school,” she added.

Meanwhile, Bol Deng Bol, Chairperson of the Jonglei Civil Society Network said they have decided to suspend their decision of going to court after the state governor returned the land that was illegally allotted by the former mayor to the rightful owners.

“The purpose of us going to court was to realize what the governor just did. It was to stop the new investors from putting any structures in those locations and also to propel the government to give back the land to the original owners because there are plot titles given to these people,” he said.

“That was our purpose of going to court, but now we will not move to court again, and our statement clearly stated that we have withdrawn our decision of moving to court because the purpose is already achieved,” he added.

The activist said they appreciate the state governor for responding positively to the grievances of the women who protested for their rights.