Bentiu residents at Naam River for manual dredging

Several women seen at Naam river doing manual dredging (Photo: courtesy)

By William Madouk Garang

Thousands of residents in Unity State’s capital Bentiu town on Thursday strolled at Naam River in all directions for manual dredging exercise, as they clear waterweeds and mud that slows water flow.

According to the frustrated residents of Bentiu who are affected by flood, they took upon themselves to manually clear the river as their children die from devastating floods and they can’t wait any longer.

Several of them were seen using simple tools like hoes, spades and bare hands to clear the river-beds, despite the previous directive issued by President Salva Kiir Mayardit suspending the planned dredging activities at Naam river until a creditable environmental assessment is done.

Peter Portsix Bakuony, the press Secretary in the office of Governor of Unity State confirmed that, indeed some resident went for river clearing on Thursday morning thinking that it will mitigate floods.

“What we know is that there are people who went this morning for River clearing most of them are women,” Bakuony told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper via a phone interview yesterday.

“According to little information we have gathered they think that by clearing the river it will decrease the floods, the initial problem is floods they think maybe by making this the floods will decrease,” he added.

Bakuony presumed that maybe the local residents were infuriated because of the recent suspension of dredging activities by president, until proper environmental study is conducted. 

“When they heard that this thing [dredging project] is suspended by President Maybe they are angered of that,” he said.

The governor’s press secretary however stated that, the State government is trying to advise the local population and give them reasons why dredging is temporarily halted adding that manual river clearing might be harmful because nobody knows what’s under the water.

“We are also very worried of their lives because river has a lot of things inside the water and these are vulnerable women,” he voiced his fears.

“We should not dredge the river when we don’t have the feasibility study weighing the advantage and disadvantages as per now the State government has suspended anything to do with dredging until experts okay it,” he stressed.

Mr. Bakuony revealed that the State government had already built some dykes around the towns as flood mitigation rainy season approaches, and as relocating affected families to highlands.

According to United Nations 2021 report, more than 900,000 people were affected by historic floods that hit the Country, with Unity, Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Areas being the areas worse hit by the floods. 

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