JUBA (AGENCIES) – The recently completed repairs on sections of the 392 km Juba-Terekeka-Rumbek road by Chinese firm Shandong Hi-Speed Group Co. Ltd (SDHS) has excited South Sudanese as it eases movement to the countryside.
Jaffer Ibrahim, who has been driving along the Juba-Terekeka stretch said on Wednesday that for over 15 years he had been finding it extremely difficult to navigate the potholed muddy road prior to the successful paving of the road with tarmac by SDHS this year.
SDHS has already completed paving 25 km of tarmac on the road, installed six bridges, 104 pipe culverts and 15 box culverts along the Juba-Terekeka stretch.
“The road is currently good now compared to when it was not paved with tarmac,” Ibrahim told Xinhua recently in Juba, adding that in the past, he used to spend nearly six hours to reach Terekeka from Juba but now he takes two hours.
“We are seeing goods from Juba reaching Terekeka on time and things from Terekeka are finding their way to markets in Juba,” said Ibrahim.
In March 2019, the Chinese construction firm was granted a contract by the South Sudanese government to start construction of major roads.
In May, the government halted work on the Juba-Terekeka-Yirol-Rumbek road after heavy flooding caused some damage to a few sections of the unpaved road.
After undertaking a review of the project lasting about three months, SDHS was granted permission to resume work in 2020.
“If the women in Terekeka want to deliver they can be driven very fast to any of the health facilities in Juba. In the past, people used boats because vehicles sometimes got stuck on the road,” said Ibrahim.
Joseph Malara, director of Juba-Terekeka transport union said he is relieved with the repairs on the once dangerous road.
“We are happy about the progress on Juba-Terekeka road, the people of Terekeka appreciate the president (Salva Kiir) for the development, the road has made a difference,” said Malara.
“Terekeka people grow fresh vegetables and have plenty of fresh fish and cows, they are now daily bringing fish and vegetables to Juba because they are able to return to Terekeka,” he added.
Emmanuel Joseph, a taxi driver who hails from Terekeka said he is now able to do more trips between Juba and Terekeka because of the paved road.
Taban Deng Gai, vice president for the infrastructure cluster in the coalition government, said last year that the road under construction will play a crucial role in promoting development as it eases access to the oil-producing region of Unity State.
The Chinese firm as part of its social responsibility to the community has also established a secondary school in Ladu County, built a health center in Terekeka, and constructed 29 boreholes and several feeder roads.