By Denis Ejulu
Several eye-catching developments have recently sprung up along the 392 km Juba-Terekeka-Rumbek Road being constructed by Chinese firm Shandong Hi-Speed Group Co. Ltd (SDHS).
Schools, health centers and businesses have mushroomed along the 63 km Juba-Terekeka stretch that has been successfully completed.
This stretch was once swampy and difficult to navigate due to huge potholes some years back since independence of South Sudan in 2011.
Meti Abuk, a 21-year-old police officer based in Terekeka is one of the many people relieved to see this key road being fast tracked.
The road is designed to link up Central Equatoria state which hosts Juba, the capital with other six states across the vast country.
“When construction of this road started in 2019, security drastically improved along the stretch to Terekeka, even our people are finding it easy to transport their goods such as fish and milk to Juba,” Abuk told The Juba Echo during inspection of the road on Wednesday.
“The road has also eased movement as people are able to travel within an hour to Juba and back to Terekeka,” he added.
In November last year, SDHS successfully completed the tarmacking of 25 km on this road but as of now 63 km of tarmac has been completed, despite enormous challenges of delayed payment by the government to the Chinese company.
Hellen Rajan, a 30 -year- old mother of four, working in one of the busy restaurants along this road, said she has seen transformation of lives and the landscape in the two years she has been on this road.
“This road has become very important lifeline for many of us because we are able to access essential goods from Juba such as sugar, maize flour that we use in our restaurant,” Rajan said.
Jaffer Ibrahim, who has been driving along the Juba-Terekeka stretch for over 15 years under extreme difficulty, said the successful paving of the road has helped motorists move with ease during the ongoing rainy season.
“We are seeing goods from Juba reaching Terekeka on time and things from Terekeka are finding their way to markets in Juba,” Ibrahim said.
Peter Lam Both, (L) Secretary General of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Ma Wenjun, (R) Charge d’ Affaires of the Chinese embassy in South Sudan along the completed 63 km Juba-Terekeka Road stretch.
John Kenyi, director general in the ministry of roads and bridges, hailed SDHS for the successful work done on the now busy road.
“I would like to thank the contractor who worked hard to finish the 63 km with a lot of challenges, so we would like the second session not to have challenges so that they can catch up with the time allocated for them to complete the project,” Kenyi said.
Peter Lam Both, interim secretary general of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) led by President Salva Kiir in the coalition government, said the completion of this road is a catalyst for more development projects to come.
“I also want to urge all our people to remain peaceful with one another, so that development can come and be accomplished, without peace nothing can be done,” Both said.
“We will work together with the contractor Shandong Hi-Speed and the ministry of roads and bridges to make sure that this road is financed because now we have seen the trunk that is going to Bahr El Ghazal has already started operations,” he added.
Ma Wenjun, charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in South Sudan, acknowledged that the road has already transformed people’s livelihoods.
“This road has been transforming people’s lives by providing facilities to transportation, logistics, trade and business among others,” he said.
“This is the fifth time I have been here in the past two years, I have seen that a lot of shops and stores have been built along the road and more are in the process of construction, so this is a road of development and happiness, it is the future of South Sudan because it connects almost two thirds of the population of South Sudan,” Ma said.