Cabinet wants late Manawa’s plan ahead of visiting experts

Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services who doubles as government spokesperson, Michael Makuei (Photo by William M. Garang)

By William Madouk Garang

The Council of Ministers resolved to hear presentation prepared by former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation late Manawa Peter Gatkuoth in their upcoming Cabinet meeting ahead of a visiting team of experts on water resources who will jet into the country this month.

Fallen Minister of Water Resources, Manawa Peter was supposed to present before the Cabinet his Ministry’s plans including the dredging of Naam River in previous Cabinet meeting but on fateful day he became gravely ill which led to his referral for medical attention and eventual demise two days later.

Unfortunately, he died at a time when the government and the public were completely depending on him to deliver his plan to clarify its position on ‘controversial’ Nile dredging.

 Addressing journalists on Friday after the regular Cabinet meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir, Minister of Information, and government spokesperson, Michael Makuei said Cabinet will listen to the pending Ministry of Water Resources proposal.

The government’s spokesperson affirmed that three experts from Canada, America and Prof. Jim Hall who teaches in Oxford University in the United Kingdom will give lectures on Nile water issue in Juba on 14 July 2022.

“The Cabinet decided that the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation to present the presentation which was prepared by Late Manawa Peter and that should be presented by the [acting] Minister in charge so that we deliberate on it in the next Cabinet meeting,” Makuei stated.

“It’s also agreed that the team of experts will be arriving–one expert is coming from Oxford, Canada and another from USA, these are the expert on water resources and management they would come and give us lecture on all these in addition to our local experts,” he told reporters.

Makuei said the Council of Ministries noted with concern that public servants and general public were overreacting on issues that are not clear to them and thus urged them to refrain.

Government mouthpiece further narrated that people should always debate on matters they are well informed of, which has not been the case with the issue of Nile dredging.

“This was passed by cabinet to advised the public accordingly, meanwhile let them wait if they want to pass their judgement they should first wait and hear from host mouth – the experts so that when you talk, you talk from an informed position,” Makuei warned. 

He slammed critics who he said are against the idea of hiring foreign experts explaining that in science you can’t be self-reliant always but also seek for second opinion from neutral entity.

“The experts who are coming; one is a Canadian, one is from Oxford University and the other one is from America, and this is in addition to our local experts here – these are all the experts who will be sitting and discussing from scientific point of view not from laymen point of view,” Makuei asserted.

According to a letter dated 2June, 2022, the Minister of Presidential Affairs invited Professor Jim Hall to come and give scientific analysis that may help the government and the public to understand how best Nile Waters can be managed.

Jim Hall is a Prof. of Climate and Environmental risks and former Director of Environmental Change Institute at University of Oxford. He is also Director of research at school of Geography and Environment.

The invitation came amidst an ongoing plan to dredge Nile River and its tributaries in order to mitigate floods waters downstream to Sudan and Egypt.

The proposed dredging on Naam River in Unity State and Bahr el Ghazal basin is casted with doubt as it was subjected to controversies and skepticism by the South Sudan general public. 

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