Official explains why Freedom Bridge is closed to motorists

Freedom Bridge/Photo by Philip Buda

By Philip Buda Ladu

The Undersecretary in the National Ministry of Roads and Bridges has explained the reason as to why the over 100 million US dollar Freedom Bridge constructed through a grant from the Japanese government is not in use for motorist and truckers despite its official opening by the President.

The first permanent bridge constructed across the River Nile took over 9 years to complete, and the Government together with the Japanese Embassy and their implementing Agency JICA commissioned on 19th May 2022.

 The Republic of Japan gave Freedom Bridge as a gift to the People of South Sudan in a grant through their Embassy and implemented by JICA, CTI and DNC.

However, after a joyous opening ceremony of the bridge officiated by the President and attended by top government dignitaries and foreign diplomats, a colourful occasion that was heavily cheered by Juba residents, the next day the bridge was closed to motorists and truckers who thought they are finally relieved of the traffic jam in the old Juba Bridge.

Engineer Peter Kuot Jel, the Undersecretary in the National Ministry of Roads and Bridges told reporters in his office on Friday that the purpose of the Bridge opening was that the project for the bridge was completed and the bridge needs to be handed over by the Japanese after the completion of their work.

Kuot clarified that the Bridge was not being closed by either JICA or the Government but rather ARC that’s doing the asphalting of the approaches to the Bridge.

African Resource Corporation (ARC) Ltd is the one doing the C-3 roads and by the time the bridge was being handed over to us (Government), the asphalting of the approach to the bridge was not completed by ARC and because the Japanese time has elapsed and they have sent their team and they need to go, we opened the bridge as a different entity from the road” Eng. Kuot explained.

“So what closed the bridge is not the Japanese or the Government of South Sudan but the ARC who are building the approaches to the bridge, that’s part of their road and the road is going to be opened differently” Kuot added.

He appealed to the population to be patient saying they have given the ARC directives to quickly finish the approaches to the bridge so that the motorists and trucks that actually need to pass by that bridge can have access the bridge.

“The bridge is already opened but, if the approach are not completed we will not allow the public to pass because normally when you asphalt the roads you at least need to give them a week for it to cure properly and because heavy trucks are going to pass there we don’t want to do a shoddy work whereby you find the road felling while the bridge is up” Eng. Kuot further justified the bridge’s closer

The Undersecretary at the National Ministry of Roads and Bridges noted that they have given ARC contractors time to finish their work while the population temporarily uses the old bridge saying the public will be informed of when the road will be ready.

“It should be a week and a half tentatively depending on the availability of the materials that are normally delaying the works of the road” he said.

The length of the road approaches connecting to the Freedom Bridge that ARC are working on is 7 kilometers approach on the east bank connecting to the old bridge and on the western bank about 14 kilometers connecting to the road stretching from the National Security premises commonly, known Blue House.

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