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National MPs interrogate Minister Mijok over stalled road works

Author: Moyo Jacob | Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2023

National parliament building, Juba South Sudan. | File photo.

The national legislature has questioned Roads Minister Mijok Mijak over the alleged slow progress in the development of roads infrastructure in the country despite the allocation of tens of thousands of barrels of oil proceeds to the ministry.

The lawmakers needed to know how far the road constructions have gone since the daily allocation of oil proceeds for the infrastructure development was initiated four years ago.

In 2019, the government signed a deal with Chinese construction companies to pump 30,000 barrels of crude oil per day, in exchange for infrastructure development.

The deal covered the ongoing construction of the Juba-Terekeka-Rumbek road, Juba-Bor road, and other pending road projects.

Peter Lomude, one of the MPs inquired why certain roads such as that of the Juba-Torit road, and others in parts of the country have stalled or not progressed at the same speed as the Juba-Bor highway.

“The road from Juba to Bor, we are aware is progressing, but I want to ask the Minister of Roads and Bridges, why the other roads, Juba-Bahr El Ghazal, Juba-Mundri-Yambio not progressing.,

“Juba-Yei-Kaya, Juba-Torit to the border of Kenya, why is the construction not going within these roads,” he asked

In response, Minister Mijok Mijak said flooding at the oil fields affected production and the Ministry’s budget.

He also said there were challenges in the budget expenditure without giving further details.

“It is right, this is my budget, but in the expenditure of the budget, we have a few challenges and as we might have seen the challenges flooding in the oil field, definitely affected the production,” he said

Meanwhile, Lawmaker Kuol Deng raised concern over the alleged exclusion of the Ministry’s technical staff from the road contract deals.

“Honorable Minister, I have learned that their contracts are being signed by the ministry, and the technical staff in the ministry are not considered, what is the use of these technical staff,” he asked

In his response, Mijok refutes the allegations saying, the ministry engages South Sudanese technocrats in the ongoing projects across the country.

“I don’t agree with that, maybe as an MP, you might have done your assignment, but they are the ones who have prepared the technical costing beginning with assessment and then the legal advisor finalizes the contracts, adding that “all these works being done in the country are done by South Sudanese young Engineers”.

Last year, the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan said the government should manage the oil-for-roads program through the ordinary budget process to secure greater transparency in the public funds.

It said, the government, during its 2021/2022 financial year, received an excess of 535 million dollars in oil revenues period, but none of the revenues reached the treasury’s accounts from which salaries and ministerial budgets are paid.

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