By Ephraim Modi D.S
President Salva Kiir Mayardit has on Wednesday officially launched the long awaited Haboba Bridge and the deadly Luri Bridge along the Juba-Mundri Highway that had claimed a lot of lives in the past years.
The inauguration was witnessed by the Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, and Speaker of the Transitional Legislative Assembly Rt. Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumba, National Minister of Roads and Bridges Simon Mijok Mijak, Central Equatoria Governor Emmanuel Adil among other senior government officials.
The two bridges were funded by the government of South Sudan and constructed by African Resources Corporation (ARC) in partnership with Mentor International Limited to connect up the capital city Juba to the towns of Western Equatoria States which will boost the country’s economy as it the ease movement of people and goods.
Speaking at the launch, President Salva Kiir said the bridges will play a vital role in regional integration that will enhance economic growth in the country and the region at large.
“The opening of these two bridges will strengthen our work in peace consolidation and regional integration as a landlocked country, our regional markets defends on good roads and bridges,” Kiir emphasized the importance of the infrastructure during the inauguration of the two bridges.
President Kiir said there are expectations of an immediate benefits of increased supply of farm produces from Western Equatoria as a result of the opening of the bridges.
The President has also promised through the National Ministry of Roads and Bridges to put up a memorial stone displaying all the names of victims who have lost lives while crossing Luri River to pay a tribute to them.
The President further commended the work of the construction companies, other government officials and the ordinary citizens for being part of the launching of the bridges achievements.
Meanwhile, Taban Deng Gai, the Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster expressed his gratitude for the inauguration of the bridges that will connect the South Sudan capital to the regional market.
The launch of the bridges have entered into history of the construction industry in the country.
The Undersecretary at the Ministry of Roads and Bridges, Peter Kuot Jel said Haboba Bridge is 30 meters single stand, while Luri Bridge is 90 meters long with both with the same width of 32 meters divided into 6 lanes, 3 on the either sides of the median and walk way on both sides. The 6 lanes are separated by (central reservation) to help inflow of traffic.
Juma Katanga Bringi, the Director of Luri Payam said before construction of the permanent bridge across Luri River, the indigenous have been the focal people in helping those using the road crossover during heavy rainy seasons.
“We have local people here who know how to swim, so they come here and save the people on free basis unless they are appreciated,” he explained.
Bringi noted that it seems like the government policy to delay the constructions of the new bridge at Luri since they have priorities to deal on first.
The development of the new bridges come after many years of failed plans by the national government to fulfil its mandate to respond into citizens’ necessities since the collapsed of Luri bridge in 2012 that has caused a lot of floods whenever it rains heavily.
Luri Bridge has been claiming dozens of people’s lives and properties during rainy seasons with six people drowned after a vehicle carrying mourners disappeared into the river in 2017.
In 2019, the National Legislative Assembly resolved to allocate 86 million South Sudanese Pounds for the rehabilitation of the bridge. Much as in 2017, the government had allocated over 6 million pounds for the rehabilitation of the Luri Bridge, the construction work didn’t commence immediately.