By Onen Walter Solomon
Officials in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State said they have suspended a road construction by Ugandan engineers inside the country’s territory.
The construction was being undertaken on a road linking Uganda to South Sudan through Magwi County.
According to Magwi County Commissioner, Otto David Ramson, the work was suspended after it had entered South Sudan by two kilometers.
“The government of Lamwo did not consult my part, and secondly, this road construction is entering into my territory – I suspended it,” Ramson told Juba Echo by phone.
Ramson said his office has not got any information from either the Eastern Equatoria State or national government about the road construction.
He said the purpose of the suspension was also to avoid possible incidences that may lead to misunderstanding between the two countries over boundaries.
“If you look around the area of Ngom-Oromo, we lost some soldiers in the area. Why do we lose them? Because of using our force without any consultation – and those things happened,” he said.
“But this time I’m trying to make sure that nothing happens in the site. Let us go on a very peaceful way of understanding so that we don’t lose anybody in the site.”
Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, James Nabinson Kidega told local radio, Mega FM that he agreed to Ramzes’s decision.
“Let us have a good road for ourselves. As you have moved from that side you need to move on a good road. If I’m going to South Sudan also, I should use a good road. I want to be honest here – we are not going to push anywhere,” Kidega said.
The tension between the two countries at Ngom-Oromo – Pogee Border posts started in 2010 after the Ugandan government decided to construct more than 60-kilometres of road from Kitgum district into South Sudan territory.
The move caused communal disagreement among the Acholi of Magwi and Lamwo district on both sides over the land – with each accusing the other of encroachment.
In August 2015, more than 200 gunmen from South Sudan’s Magwi County entered into Uganda and were later flashed out by the Ugandan army.
The accusation turned militarily in April 2018, when Uganda accused then SPLA of blocking road engineers working on the same Lamwo road connecting to South Sudan’s Magwi County.
“The work will not continue until further notice, until both sides go and consult from their own government then we shall see a way forward,” Ramson said.