President’s office denies knowledge of dredging machine in Bentiu

By Adia Jildo

The Press Secretary in the Office of the President, Ateny Wek Ateny has denied knowledge of dredging machines donated by the Egyptian government to clear the Nile tributaries in South Sudan but also acknowledged the dredging of Naam River in Unity State to enhance water transport.

Last week, media reports disclosed the reception of river dredging machineries by the Government of Unity State brought through Sudan, allegedly meant for the dredging of the Naam river beds in Unity State, Bentiu.

The government’s spokesperson in Unity State, David Gai was quoted last week in media report as confirming that it’s indeed true, they had received the machineries given by the Egyptian authority and they are now in position to remove weeds that prevent water flow along the river.

However, the Presidential Press Secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny, argued that the activity happening at the Naam River is the removal of water weeds to enable navigation of water transport vessels which was meant to ease food transportation from Sudan through Bahr el Ghazal to Juba as agreed by the two countries.

The Presidential aide told No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper in a telephone interview that the dredging of Naam River will enhance movement of the goods using river routes.

“I am not aware if there is any machine brought to drain the Nile tributaries. What’s on the Nile is clearing of the weeds lying on the river. I think this thing is to allow the river navigation. We are not digging anything on the Nile. It’s the river transport that needs to be enhanced,” Ateny stated.

 “There are some food items brought in Sudan that are supposed to be brought to South Sudan as commodity for the supply,” he added.

He assured that clearing of the Naam River will not have any impact on the course of water flow and will not interrupt the flow of the Nile normally.

Ateny noted that any decision to be made on dredging the Nile will be a peoples’ decision which will include experts, activists, citizens and government in case of any future plan for the resumption of digging up of the Nile, it will have to be made with a clear study from experts.

“Any future enactment brought to clear/clean the Nile will be done in the basis of the study and government will take the advice of the experts if it is the best interest of the Republic of South Sudan to do,” he continued.  “It will not be the decision of the government of South Sudan alone. The decisions have not yet been taken to do anything on the Nile” said Ateny.

Ateny further clarified that there has not been any discussion made or approval granted on dredging of the Nile tributaries, asserting that the flow of the water northwards will continue as normal.

“Anything about water has not been discussed by the government and the government has not given anything” Ateny said. Anything that will increase the flow of water towards north has not been discussed by anybody,” he reiterated.

The Presidential Press Secretary called on the citizen to remain calm and not be intrigued by any news. “People of South Sudan should not panic. The government has not made any decision to change the course of the Nile to increase the floor. There is no decision to dig Jonglei canal,” he said.

 Last week, photos of heavy trucks carrying some heavy machinery were seen in Unity State alleged to be contributed by the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to help clear bed of River Nile and allow water to flow.

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