OPINION – If the planned dredging of South Sudan’s rivers is aimed at solving the problem of flooding, that solution is scientifically, environmentally, socially and politically the wrong solution. It is a solution that creates more deadly problems than the problem it tries to address. Dredging deepens the river and increases its flow, where the river will no longer overflow its banks.
This has dire consequences for the flora, fauna and human life in the Sudd Wetlands, Africa’s largest. So instead of dredging, could we be thinking of clearing the river of the blockages caused by sand, mud, old boats and canoes and aquatic plants? Clearing or cleaning removes from the river the blockage without necessarily deepening the river.
If it is clearing we want, so as to address the issue of flooding, why do we need Egypt to do it for us, knowing that Egypt has ulterior motives and much encompassing strategic designs on South Sudan? Why sell ourselves and our country in such an uncaring way? For what, small cash that would be distributed between the leaders, sums which would easily get spent in a couple of years in exchange for a disaster?
If the idea was to benefit South Sudan, which is most paramount, why do our leaders choose to lie to us as a policy approach, when in fact all they need to do is to communicate with us on open platforms where ideas and opinions are subjected to civil dialogue? What we need as patriotic citizens is not necessarily a blanket objection to the planned dredging, but to urge, perhaps pressure the government to reconsider this, and instead, suspend the project and first allow this to be debated.
There is a lot of literature on this topic of dredging and digging of the Jonglei Canal. Why not allow sober review of this body of knowledge by both concerned citizens and officials, lay the negative and positive consequences side-by-side and let us weigh the evidence and then decide, even suggest a referendum on it? What is the rush? Floods have been with us since time immemorial and surely have short-term negative impact, followed by blessings that last for much longer.
We cannot accept a decision to dredge the rivers which could have an irreversible disastrous result without considering both the positive and negative consequences of such an action. Insisting on forging ahead with this project under Egyptian supervision and implementation is not only immoral, but also a crime, a genocide and a rape of our nature. We must stop it.
We can stop this by popular protest, since our leaders only choose to insult us as “criminals” when we object. We can protest and stop this the same way my generation stood up against Khartoum on the digging of the Jonglei Canal, the same way the SPLA used the anger about the Jonglei Canal to recruit massive numbers of young people into its ranks, the same way the SPLA caused a major global event by shutting down the world’s only excavator of its kind at the time, the Bucket wheel, which remains in ruins to this day, after only digging a deep and straight 227KM unfinished canal!
Speak up, people, the youth, this is your future being raped before your eyes, by octogenarians who are nearing their graves and have nothing more to lose.
The author is an academic and co-founder of the Sudd Institute. Following him, HERE, on Twitter.
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