New South Sudan’s capital city is premature idea
By Roba Gibia
February 14, 2011 – Finally and after long struggle for freedom and independence, people of South Sudan have spoken and got what they have been longing for. Then what is next? People of South Sudan have got very high expectations just like when the comprehensive peace agreement was signed on January 9, 2005. But this time it is different and requires consistent unity and efforts of every South Sudanese as it had been during the referendum regardless of tribal and political affiliation. The new born nation of South Sudan is being confronted with numerous challenges, and the most immediate is compromise, to reconcile ourselves and forgive each other so that the new nation can accommodate all of us. The new born nation of South Sudan needs not to differentiate between its sons and daughters. Meaning those who actually fought the war should not marginalize those remained in various towns of South or northern Sudan or Diaspora as well as those who campaigned recently for unity with north during the January 2011 referendum. Hence, all the qualified and experienced South Sudanese have to be incorporated in the Government of South Sudan, not on tribal or nepotism basis but on potentiality and capacity basis or otherwise internal conflicts will erupt in South Sudan if there is no justice and equality.
The emerging country of South Sudan requires strong geo-strategic and geo-politics to consolidate itself into the regional and international community, which requires excellent and wise leadership, good governance, precision and accountability in order to build and lift the country from pit of poverty. Therefore, in my view, the most imperative task of independent South Sudan is to OFFER BASIC SERVICE and to meet the high expectations of the South Sudanese people such as hospitals/healthcare, schools, sanitation, food security, communication network and improvement of people’s living standard by concentrating on agricultural projects for self-reliance instead depending on agricultural products from neighboring countries. Thus, at this juncture, I have to reiterate and say Lay South Sudan’s Foundation without Extravagance because I believe the emerging country of South Sudan is entrusted with variety of responsibilities, imperative and priority issues and to lay the proper and strong South Sudan’s foundation based on priority basis. Therefore, I believe prompt implementation of planed South Sudan’s new capital city at this crucial time is premature idea! And if I am not mistaken, we have to ask ourselves at this juncture as what are South Sudan’s first priorities, hospitals, schools, sanitation, agricultural projects, petroleum refineries, security, basic services or modern capital city? Modernize your existing towns, re-plan, reconstruct Juba town and connect it with the other nine states of South Sudan with passable roads and airports, but not AIRSTRIPS before thinking about modern capital city to beautify the face of South Sudan. You cannot do that while your entire people are living below poverty line, poor health and in absolute illiteracy. Such huge project which will cost billions of US dollars, could be executed when South Sudan stands on its own legs but not while it is still unable to offer basic service to its people, and has got no or fragile infrastructure which could not even accommodate South Sudanese returnees.
I know many people are happy and supported GoSS’s idea for relocating South Sudan’s capital city from Juba, but in my own humble view, these are emotional supports without studying and evaluating the real situation and challenges facing South Sudan at this moment. The anticipated modern capital city is going to be executed on the other essential project expenses, which will deprive and consume South Sudan’s only oil revenue! You cannot deprive entire South Sudanese people from basic services, just for the sake of beautifying country’s face. The beauty of your country’s face is when you deliver basic services to your people and raise their living standards. Therefore, to run any country or institution, there has to be good economic planning, good governance, wise decision making and above all the national interest which cannot be compromised under any circumstances, which is the welfare of the citizens. Therefore, empower your people economically, culturally, socially and educationally to contribute positively in the development of the country, offer them security, peace of mind and improve life of rural areas population, who are suffering from scarcity of water, food and healthcare centers, schools and are living on God’s mercy. Besides that there are not adequate schools and hospitals in entire South Sudan except in neighboring countries! Thus, you cannot relocate South Sudan’s capital city while GoSS and ten states staff’s’ monthly salaries are being paid after every three to four months! People of South Sudan doesn’t need new capital city at this juncture but infrastructure and basic services such as hospitals/healthcare, schools, sanitation, clean drinking water, electricity, passable rounds, communication network, food security and above all protection of South Sudan’s territorial integrity.
Roba Gibia is a Sudan Tribune’s columnist; he can be reached at email@example.com