By Mary Poni
The chamber of commerce in Yei River County said traders in Yei have taken upon themselves to contribute cash to repair the impassable Yei-Kaya road as they urged the government to commit to its promise and speed up the construction of Juba-Yei-Kaya Highway to boost trade activities.
The chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce in Yei Mr. Luwate Justin Luwate said the government should most importantly pay attention to the Yei-Kaya road section of the highway as the poor state of the major lifeline for Yei traders is frustrating businesses.
The Yei River county Chamber of Commerce chairperson revealed the worse state of the Yei-Kaya road to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper yesterday in an exclusive phone interview.
He said that the people of Yei were excited upon receiving the good news that Juba, Yei-Kaya highway was going to be graded and tarmacked from the beginning of the year in which bush clearance was done unfortunately the work didn’t progress as it was expected.
Luwate said the work stopped at the bush clearance stage and nothing has been done on the road since then, saying the bush has grown back and people especially the road users are really disappointed.
The business community in Yei now appeals to the government to take the issue in to consideration and fix the roads, adding if they (gov’t) are unable to do the initial plan of tarmacking, let them grade the old one with at least marram.
“With the continues rain, there are going to be many potholes and our fear is that it will be more than what we have already witnessed and working on, therefore, the government should help with resources,” Luwate pleaded.
He disclosed that the issue of the Yei-Kaya road came to their attention in May, 2022 when there were already some spots on the road that completely made it very impassable for the movement of big trucks whereas they could spend days sometimes three weeks or up to a month before reaching to Yei town.
The chamber of commerce chairperson said the road condition has created a lot of problems in the Yei in terms of supply of goods as it’s known that South Sudan mostly depends on imports from its neighboring countries especially Uganda using the road through Kaya to Yei.
“The Kaya road is one of the most important roads compared to the Juba roads because it has direct access to the factories in Uganda and they are the producers of main goods,” Luwate noted.
“We presented the issue of the road to the government at the county level several times to take steps towards fixing the road but they hide our calls until the road completely got damaged, even the small cars could not pass,” he exclaimed.
He said the county commissioner visited the site and witnessed that things were not well in the first place.
“We agreed on how the road was going to be fixed but due to some constraints from the county side, they could not do it,” Luwate noted.
He said they have decided to send their team as traders on the ground and to do some small work.
“At least they improved the road a little bit though not to the standard we expected, that could anytime go down,” he added.
“We sat down for the second time to agree on another phase of work on the same place which is now on going through the help of business community, we called for contribution from them especially from the big trucks to generously contribute,” Luwate revealed.
He said there was a team on the ground sent to do the road repair and others are supervising while also mobilizing for more resources.
He also disclosed that any person who contributed would be issued a receipt including the vehicle’s number and their contacts to check and balance the activities of the team working on the road.
“The contribution is a voluntary kind of thing but we still do encourage people to contribute generously and we are happy with some traders who offered up to 100,000ssp and more as a contribution for the construction progress.” he affirmed.
Luwate said on the road insecurity aspect, the last time an incident occurred on the Yei-Kaya road was in May which left at least three people dead, two Ugandans and one Tanzanian national.
“With a help from the government, the security forces also tried to help, at least they managed to neutralize the situation and nothing has happened since then,” he acknowledged.