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Flood-weary Unity State authorities determined to start dredging soon

Author: Alhadi Hawari | Published: Thursday, June 9, 2022

Consignment of dredging machinery arrive in Unity State. |File photo.

Authorities in Unity State are installing the recently imported dredging machines to open the pathway of the Naam river, adding that the work will start next week.

The state Information Minister David Gai said the engineers are ready to start the work to deepen and widen the River Naam, in not later than next week.

Minister Gai told Eye Radio the government intends to dredge the Naam river, in a desperate solution to mitigate the devastating flood that submerged the entire state last year.

“We received the machinery for opening the Naam River. The purpose of opening this river is to mitigate floods in Unity State because Unity State has been submerged in water for the last year and a half, so people are suffering and the river is very shallow,” Gai said.

The River Naam, a tributary of the Nile, flows from Bahr El Ghazal, arcs over northern Unity State before entering the sudd through Lake No.

The river has reportedly become shallow over the years, and it is believed to be unleashing enormous water into the swampy rural settlements of Rubkona County and the surrounding areas.

Last year’s floods is reported to have submerged 90 percent of the local population, forcing the authorities to relocate oilfield communities to the north due to fear of oil pollution.

Minister Gai said to Eye Radio they will make sure the work starts as soon as the second consignment of the machinery arrive.

“That’s the plan, so we have a plan to open the river so that the water outside go into the river so that our people are free from floods. Soon as engineers are working to make sure that all the machinery arrives in the station so they will start very soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, another government official in the state also said the dredging is a solution to seasonal flash floods, which according to him has taken 95% of the land surface.

Lam Tungwar, who is the Minister of Housing, Land, and Public Utilities in Unity State claimed in a social media post that the dredging project is a call by the communities affected by the massive flooding.

The stance by the local authority in Unity comes amidst public concerns that the planned dredging of rivers will leave the plains of Upper Nile and Bahr El Ghazal region dry and inflict an irreversible damage to the ecosystem on the sudd wetland.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Environment issued a press statement declaring the immediate halting of the process until an environmental risk assessment is conducted.

Minister Josephine Napwon said her institution has not been informed of the project, and as such the process is illegal.

Also, the Office of the President came out yesterday to state that the leadership was not officially informed about the acquisition of the Nile River dredging machines from Egypt.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Minister of Water Resource and Irrigation exposed in a press release Wednesday, that a member of the presidency was aware of the deal to clear the pathways of some rivers which was signed during a visit to Egypt last year.

Gattiek Wichar, the press secretary of Minister Manawa Gatkuoth disclosed that the deal was signed by his boss during a high-level visit to Egypt, of a delegation led by Dr. James Wani Igga, Vice President for Economic Cluster.

 

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