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VP Taban calls for resumption of Jonglei Canal to prevent flood disaster

Author: Koang Pal Chang | Published: Monday, February 28, 2022

VP Taban Deng Gai, the Vice President for Infrastructures - Courtesy

The Vice President for Infrastructures has called for resumption of digging of the Jonglei Canal to prevent flood disaster in Jonglei and Unity states.  

A report by the UN refugee agency estimated that 380,000 people were affected by flooding in six states by the end of May last year – with Jonglei and Unity the most affected.

According to General Taban Deng Gai, the devastating floods in areas of Bentiu, Fangak, and Bor towns have been as a result of high volume of water he said is being released from Lake Victoria allegedly by Uganda authorities.

He says to avoid displacement caused by flooding, waterways should be opened by resuming the digging of the Jonglei Canal.

This, Deng says, will help speed-up the flow of the Nile water to Egypt.

However, he cautioned the resumption of digging of the Jonglei Canal should be done under South Sudanese terms, but not in Egyptian interest.

The Vice President spoke during the launch of legendary musician, Bangich Reat Foundation in Juba on Sunday.

“We, the people in Bentiu and Fangak, have no place to stay. We may migrate to Eastern Nuer [Eastern bank of White Nile] because we have lost our land to flooding,”  VP Deng told a gathering in Juba on Sunday.

“The livelihood of people in Bentiu, Fangak, and Bor has been destroyed by recent floods.

“People are asking who opened this huge volume of water because we never experienced this for decades. Of course, Ugandan and Kenya opened the water, because Kampala was almost submerged because of the rising level of water from Lake Victoria.

“The digging of the Jonglei Canal that was stopped needs to be revised, but should be done under our terms not based on the Egyptian interest. We must study it, and must be acceptable to all South Sudanese.

“For our land not to be submerged by flood, let’s allow this water to flow to those who need it in Egypt.”

This is the first time a senior government official made it public the resumption of digging of the Jonglei Canal.

The Jonglei canal scheme was first studied by Egypt in 1946 and plans were developed in 1954-59.

The project aimed to divert water from the vast Sudd wetlands in South Sudan so as to deliver more water downstream to Sudan and Egypt for agricultural use.

Construction work on the canal began in 1978, but the outbreak of political instability in Sudan had held up work for many years.

By 1984 when the SPLA brought the works to a halt, 240 kilometers of the canal of a total of 360 kilometers had been excavated.

The independence of South Sudan in 2011 effectively ended the role of the Sudanese Government with regard to the canal.

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