JUBA – The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has said that it has observed media debates amounting to misinformation on social media over the controversy surrounding the government initiative to dredge Nile river tributaries and urged the government not to restrict media access to information regarding the dredging initiative to avoid misinformation.
Speaking to journalists following a weekly cabinet meeting on Friday, information minister Michael Makuei Lueth, said the ministry of water resources would table the report compiled by late minister Manawa Gatkuoth to the council of minister for discussion and revealed that the government has contracted three water experts including one from the Oxford University to help in addressing the issue.
Makuei who doubles as the government spokesman said the water experts would arrive in Juba on July 13, immediately after the 11th independence anniversary, to conduct public lectures for the government on the dredging initiative.
In a statement this afternoon, the CEPO welcomed the government decision to review the report compiled by late Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, but urged the government to withhold information regarding the projects to dredge the rivers.
“It is a remarkable decision to provide professional and accurate information for the public for better and consultative dialogue between the government and the public on national interest schemes like the river dredging,” the CEPO said.
“In the past days, numerous debates and deliberations were observed in various online media platforms. The country has openly spotted some of social media debates as harmful,” Yakani added in the statement a copy of which was extended to Sudans Post.
Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of the CEPO, said that the country’s leaders should be aware of the dangers associated with restriction of media access to information such as the one on the river dredging government initiatives.
“The leaders should now know that denying media access to information directly contribute in fueling misinformation. The misinformation on the river dredging project was a clear indicator that if the media was provide accurate information early, the observed misinformation in the various platforms of the social media could not been seen. The pressure generated by various users of social media if it is misleading with misinformation, it is because no early provision of accurate information to the public,” Yakani said.
“It is critical for leaders to know that media access to accurate early information is critical in this world of today where social media and technology have created citizen-centered journalism. In today’s world misinformation is stronger tool of destruction and misleading public. The river dredging project debate could have been better and soft if accurate early information was provided to the public. It is not yet later since the country is expecting experts to educate the leaders and citizens on the project,” Yakani stressed.
The statement further said that the “CEPO hope that any public debate event associated with the river dredging should not be restricted and freedom of expression should be observed fully by some government institutions since it is public best interest deliberations that requires provision of accurate information for correcting the misinformation and disinformation in the public arena already.”
It when on to urge “the public to take responsibility on any public engagement on the river dredging initiative since it is already fueled by a lot of misinformation and disinformation.”