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Govt to ‘put to rest’ controversies over Nile dredging shortly

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Cabinet Minister Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro. | File photo.

The Cabinet Minister has said the government will make a statement on the controversial Nile dredging project this weekend.

Martin Elia Lomoro said the concerned ministers of Water Resources and Irrigation, Environment and Forestry and that of the Presidential Affairs will brief the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday.

Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, Josephine Napwon and Barnaba Marial Benjamin are expected to clarify the confusions surrounding the plan to clear the pathway of river Naam and Bahr El Ghazal Basin.

“On the basis of the recent concerns based on the equipment for dredging that have been delivered apparently to Unity State and the confusion in the social media about the dredging and construction of Jonglei Canal, the ministers concerned should brief the council on the coming Friday so that the confusion is brought down to rest,” said Dr Lomoro.

The Cabinet Minister told the state-owned television SSBC on Thursday, the government will put to rest the confusions and speculations targeting the top leadership of the country.

“The ministers will brief the cabinet especially the issues on social media which have gone out of control including allegations that are unnecessary, and particularly targeting the top leadership of the country.”

It is not clear how the government will put the volatile matter to rest.

Two weeks ago, the government of Unity State received the first consignment of the Egyptian machinery for clearing the Naam River and Bahr El-Ghazal basin.

The authorities in the flood-stricken state announced they were installing the imported dredging machines to start opening the pathway of the Naam river amidst public concerns.

State Information Minister David Gai told Eye Radio that the engineers are ready to start the work to deepen and widen the River Naam, in not later than a week’s time.

The decision has so far sparked mixed reactions from the public, with some raising concerns the project could inflict an irreversible damage on the suds ecosystem.

Following the events, different government institutions contradicted themselves over the dredging plan to mitigate three years of flooding in the low-lying areas of the country.

The Environment Ministry issued a press statement declaring that the project is illegal and should not proceed until an environmental risk assessment is conducted.

The Office of the President, despite having invited a foreign environmental expert to give an assessment on the Nile water saga, also came out to clarify that it was not officially aware about the project.

The developments then compelled the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation to wash his hands, saying he signed the Egypt based deal on behave of the government.

Meanwhile, a statement from the office of the First Vice President said the governance cluster meeting directed the three ministries to brief the Council of Ministers on Friday.

The Governace Cluster chaired by the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon on Tuesday in its regular meeting directed the Ministries of; Water resources and Irrigation, of Environment and Forestry and for presidential affairs to brief the Council of Ministers this week on the concern and confusion surrounding the dredging of rivers caused by the arrival of the recent equipment that were received by Unity State government which has sparked controversy on social media and public discussions,” reads the statement.

On Tuesday, a group of lawyers said they are challenging the government’s decision to clear the Naam and related basins before the East Africa Court of Justice.

The advocates told Eye Radio, they have dragged the government to the the East Africa Court of Justice over the issue.

Two of the lawyers, Elario Adam and Athiangbiar Deng, said the project is environmentally unsustainable and it will traverse protected areas in East Africa.

They said they intend to compel the government to carry out an environmental impact assessment prior the implementation of the project.

 

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