19th April 2024
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South Sudan, Kenya vow border dispute won’t affect highway construction

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Friday, February 16, 2024

Juba-Torit-Nadapal highway. (-)

South Sudan and Kenya have agreed to continue building a highway connecting Eastern Equatoria State and Turkana County despite the historic border dispute at the Ilemi Triangle.

The ministries of roads of the two countries met on Thursday in Nairobi and agreed to set aside the land dispute to be solved by the border committee as they continue to build the vital trade route.

The highway will connect land-locked South Sudan to Kenya’s Mombasa Port, making Juba a major market for Kenyan goods.

This comes after Nairobi descended into trade disagreement with neighboring Uganda, prompting the latter to opt for the port of Dar es Salam in Tanzania.

South Sudan’s Minister of Roads and Bridges, Simon Mijok Mijak said the border committees in the two countries will continue engaging on the issue of the border, while the infrastructure ministries focus on building the highway.

Minister Mijak agreed with his Kenyan counterpart, Kipchumba Murkomen to double their efforts and focus on resolving the stalled construction of the 350km Juba – Nadapal Road.

This includes upgrading of the road to bitumen standards which will boost socio-economic development in Kenya and South Sudan.

Mijak said a Memorandum of Understanding has been developed and will be signed after consultations with the leaderships in the two countries.

“The border issues and the road are to be disconnected because we need the road more urgently,” he told the media in Nairobi.

“The issues of the road will be discussed at the level of the two border committees as well as the engagement of the two communities in Turkana and Eastern Equadoria.”

In June 2023, a South Sudan government official said the construction of the Juba-Nadapal Road came to an abrupt halt due to a lack of funding.

Work on the road commenced in August 2020 under the African Resources Corporation (ARC), which is currently building the Juba-Bahr el Ghazal and Juba-Bor-Malakal highways through a crude oil scheme.

The construction was initially scheduled to be completed within four years, but the shortage of funds has brought the project to a standstill.

– Border tension –

On February 2, 2023, tension flared up leading to inter-communal violence between Turkana and Toposa at the disputed Illemi Triangle – prompting Juba and Nairobi to intervene.

This came after tens of thousands of Toposa tribesmen demonstrated against alleged incursion into South Sudan’s Nadapal by Kenyan troops, which immediately withdrew from the area.

South Sudan government spokesperson Michael Makuei called for calm among South Sudanese over the Nadapal skirmishes at the border with Kenya as the government addresses the issue.

Later, the governments of South Sudan and Kenya agreed to form a Joint Technical Team to resolve the border dispute at the Ilemi Triangle.

 

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