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Water ministry backs govt plan to buy water tankers

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Monday, January 22, 2024

Water tankers draw water from the River Nile in Juba, South Sudan. (-)

The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said the plan to purchase hundreds of tanker trucks at the cost of 9 million USD aims to reduce the price of the water price to 300 South Sudanese pounds.

The ministry was responding to a call by Ebony Centre for Strategic Studies on the cabinet’s Economic Cluster to abandon the “tankers’ purchase scheme.”

On 10th January 2024, the Economic Cluster led by Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga approved a proposed 9-million-US-dollar budget for the purchase of water tankers to supply water in Juba.

Lily Albino Akol Akol, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security and spokesperson of the cluster said the government would buy the trucks in phases.

The scheme was heavily criticized by members of the public on social media platforms.

The Ebony Center, a national research organization, then called on the Economic Cluster to call off the water tanks purchase project.

The centre questioned the cost calculation and sustainability of the scheme and said South Sudanese policymakers should pursue evidence-based decision-making processes.

It warned that the initiative, which appears as a noble idea, could end up in the list of corruption scandals like the Dura saga, crisis management saga, and Letters of Credit (LCs) saga that reportedly plunged the country into financial crisis.

It further said the pursuit of short-sighted investments without careful cost-benefit analysis can lead to dire economic implications for the country.

“The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation is writing to inform the public that the plan of the Ministry to purchase 200 tanker trucks that cost 9 million United States Dollars is in line with public interest,” the water minister said in a statement on Facebook.

“It is intended to reduce the price of one drum of water up to 300 South Sudanese pounds opposed to the price of drum sold by private tanker trucks.”

According to the Ministry, the proposed schemed “is a short-term intervention to decrease the price of water sold by the blue tankers while the Ministry is working on the household connection.”

The ministry stated that “strong men” associated with the private tankers are using every means to sabotage the plan so that they continue reaping the abnormal profit they are getting from their sale of water at the expense of the public.

In its policy note, Ebony Center recommended that the cabinet cluster assigns the function to the Juba City Council which has the necessary mandate to provide basic services, such as water in the capital.

It believes that the private sector’s involvement can yield considerable benefits through the introduction of innovative technologies and efficient water management practices that yield clean and affordable water system.

Juba City, in whose midst the Nile River passes through, does not have pipe water distribution system and its residential areas rely on water tankers for its domestic use.

The city residents have since decried high water prices and called on the government to construct a more reliable water distribution network.



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