JUBA — South Sudan’s ministry of water resources and irrigation has said that the lawyer who dragged the government to East African Court of Justice did not follow the right procedure and the dredging project for Naam River will continue as planned.
Earlier this month, the ministry announced the arrival of dredging machines from Egypt via Sudan to Bentiu in preparation for clearance of weed impeding water flow from Naam River to the White Nile.
The arrival of machines sparked public outcry in Juba even among the educated class, but witnessed a welcome discussions among residents of Unity State who believe the project will rescue them from floods that have displaced more than half of the state’s population and killed hundreds since last year.
A group of lawyers then logged a legal complaint against the government at the East African Court of Justice arguing that the project is being done without the needed environmental risk assessment and would affect the entire Sudd region.
Elario Adam Cholong, a Juba-based lawyer, logged a complaint against the government saying the “project is environmentally untenable and it will traverse protected area in East Africa, with undue regard to livelihoods, gender, food, children and public health of the East Africans.”
He argues that “the area through which the dredging project shall pass is comprised of several settlements, farmlands and water sources for thousands of indigenous persons and there has been no regard to their rights.”
But when contacted by Sudans Post this afternoon, the press secretary of the minister of water resources and irrigation Gattiek Wichar, said the lawyer did not follow the appropriate legal procedures and that he should have first exhausted local remedies before going to Arusha court.
“That lawyer did not follow right procedures. He should understand the project before rushing to court. He should exhaust local remedies before taking it to the regional court but his case won’t work he is just doing it to seek public attentions,” he said from Juba.
When asked as to if the project will continue, Wichar said there is nothing stopping the project because it is a matter of survival for the people of the floods-affected states in the world’s youngest country.
“There is nothing stopping it to the best of my knowledge because the project is a gov’t led-project which is Ministry’s strategy to response natural calamity posed by floods in the country,” he said.