Pro-dredging protests arise in Bentiu

Picture showing pro-dredging protesters in Unity State capital Bentiu holding placards (Photo: Yien Gattuor)

By Yien Gattuor Mead

Thousands of citizens in Unity State’s capital Bentiu who are pro-dredging on Monday took to the street protesting the suspension of all dredging activities by President Salva Kiir in the Naam River after the arrival of dredging machineries from Egypt to Bentiu via Sudan.

 The machines that were shipped into Unity State in big containers as displayed over the media sparked public outcry and debate over the planned clearance of the Bahr el Gazal River that prompted the President to launch a public consultation on the Nile water resources management, and halted all dredging activities until a scientific environmental study is carried out.  

The protesters who are dissatisfied with the current developments surrounding the Nile water management issues and most particular the dredging of the Naam River halting poured out the frustration holding placards, demanding the national Government allow the dredging get done to save them from the floods.

Most of the locals protesting over the suspension of Naam River dredging are citizens who were displaced by the devastating floods that hit Unity State and they now shelter at Bentiu IDPs camp.

No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper caught up with some of the protesters in Bentiu on Monday as they pour out their frustrations and called on the national government to allow dredging take place for the sake of their lives which had been overwhelmed by floods.

Nyajuoy Kuany Latjor one of the protesters said they are protesting, demanding for our rights from the national level, “We are dying in Unity State here and nobody is responding to us from the national government in juba” he echoed.

“The Naam River dredging suspension to us is human rights violation against our civil population in Unity State” she added.

Another protester, Matuak Dlenga said they as citizens of Unity State, their concern is that they need Naam River dredging to be done as soon as possible. 

“We are requesting our brothers and sisters across the country to accept our suffering for more than three years it’s our rights to demand Naam River dredging” Matuak one of the pro-dredging citizens.

For his part Nyakoang Lam stated that they had been affected by the floods, their animals are dying always and even their people in different areas.

“We are asking the H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit to give us space to dredge our Naam River then our suffering can stop” appealed Nyakoang Lam. 

She added that there are cases of snake bites across the seven counties in Unity State and nobody is doing farming in the seven counties. “We are depending on UN for three years we are not doing anything” Nyakoang cried. 

Meanwhile, Hon. Deng Moun Liah, a member of parliament in Unity State Transitional Legislative Assembly said they welcome the protest that had been carried out by community living in Bentiu IDPs camp.

He said as person who is representing them in the State parliament it is good for them to ask their rights through protest. 

The Unity State Bentiu IDPs camp community high committee chairman John Nhial Ruai said in reference of the aforementioned subject, they the community living in Bentiu IDPs camp support the dredging of River Naam. 

“Bentiu IDPs camp hosts over 185,000 people and they are supporting the move of dredging process of Naam River. The Naam River become very shallow, which now cause devastated flood, which is so disastrous to the population living in IDPs camp” Nhial said.  

“We are really affected by flooding which has stayed and submerging our areas across seven counties in Unity State since 2019 up to date it has also cause a lot of displacement and loss of livelihood and Livestock as well everything are lost by community of Unity State” he stressed.

He added that the flood water mixed with chemical waste and toxic from oil production caused some deformities and environmental diseases like hepatitis E, B and C plus cholera outbreak inside the camp due to the current flooding in the area. 

“We call upon presidency national legislative assembly and Unity State government to look into this matter seriously because Unity State citizens are part of South Sudanese citizens and shouldn’t be subjected to the suffering” Nhial, the IDP camp leaders emphasized.

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