Community self-help road Project restoring livelihoods hopes in Kajo-Keji

By Emelda Siama John Lopula

Citizens of Kajo-Keji County, Central Equatoria State are striving to rebuild back their lives and revamp the devastated infrastructures in the county as they embarked on the rehabilitation of over 10 kilometers key access roads to main public installations points through a self-help projected solely funded by the sons and daughters of the county.

Kajo-Keji county of Central Equatoria State bordering Moyo district of Uganda’s West Nile region is one of the worst hit county by the 2016 political crisis that left almost three quarter of the county deserted by local fleeing war atrocities due to the fighting between government forces and the SPLM/A-IO.

However, thanks to the September 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement that has brought relative calm and peace across the country and Kajo-Keji in particular that suffered the consequences of the brutal civil war, which killed 400,000 lives and over 2 million others displaced to the neighboring countries as refugees.

As life returns back to normalcy despite the cattle-herders disturbance, the county youth and community leadership teamed up to mobilize the sons and daughters of the Kajo-Keji to contribute and help fix the key access roads that connects to the centers of the county where vital public installations, health and education facilities lies.

The community development initiative dabbed as “community road self-help project” first launched the construction of a 7.2km of road networks in the Kajo-Keji town center, the rehabilitation was launched on 19 March 2023

Initially the agreement was to rehabilitate a 7.5kms but due to a demand to fix the sorry state of some other roads connecting to the town an additional 3.5kms was added to present road network.

Addressing the citizens of Kajo-Keji county on Saturday, the Chairperson of the self-help project said, the 7.5kms road network will connect; Tipere, to Kajo-Keji Airstrip, Kajo-Keji Civil hospital locally known as (Mundari hospital), Wudu Town, Lomin and to Leikor trading center along the Juba-Kajo-Keji highway.

Meanwhile due to demand to connect other areas, an addition of 1.3kms from Lomin-Kangapo Road and 2.3kms of Mere Lubajo Bridge were added.

The Chairperson of self-help road community project, Mr. Evans Lou Lopita, said that the initiative was started since last year as a result of poor road which result into impediment of access to vital services such as health and the airstrip.

“This initiative was from the youth leader and the former commissioner, they did their best by mobilizing all the community to organize stones at that time but due to the downpour of water is too much all the stones prickle. And DLD the road construction company in Uganda (was) asked to come and fix the bad part of this road for only six thousands five hundred US dollars and the money was not intended for payment it was for fuel and up keep of the operators,” Lopita explained.

He stated that the main objective for the construction of the road network was to enable the people of Kajo-Keji access health services from Mundari hospital and airstrip.

“More than two women died when they were trying to evacuate them to the hospital during labour but due to the delay one died, another one by plane it fail, so the military are there to give protection to the entire population but assuming that if there is insecurity somewhere they cannot even pass their vehicles do get stuck always to due to poor road,” he said.

He stated that by fixing the road residents from villages will be able to benefit from the county main Referral hospital which was recently reinforced by MSF adding that accessing Wudu market the main shopping center in the county which was dilapidated will soon rose to life with the completion of the project.

Lopita further noted that with the self-help road project complete, it will boost economy activities within the county and also help the security respond to any security calls without difficulty to safeguard citizens’ livelihood.

Meanwhile, Eng. Paul Barugambire who is in charge of the construction company, said that the community were happy and cooperative. He said they started the work on Sunday, and they covered 7.2kms and they are on another street of 1.2kms which around 0.5kms of it has been done.

“Am just grateful to work with the community and the whole county because they are cooperative they are giving us support, nobody is complaining, I wish to be given a chance, we can continue to work more and more, me personally as a point of creating friendships, I thought of creating other roads at the trading center like in Leikor, Wudu, and Mere areas without any payment so that the community can contribute,” he said.

On his part the commissioner of Kajo-keji County, Panuel Dumo, said that, the road project is a long history milestone, saying it’s for the first time in the history of Kajo-Keji, that this is the second road project taken by the community, adding the 75 miles Kajo-Keji-Juba road was an initiative also taken by the same youth.

“The idea is as we implement peace agreement, this will be one of the factors that could attract the returnees back because service delivery is one of the issue in the agreement, we happened to provides roads access, schools, hospitals, total peace and stability that will now allow a freedom for every citizen to come and do things for themselves,” he lamented.

“We have now covered the 7.2kms which actually not enough and we are at the side of Kangapo half hill, we want to connect a distance of 1.5kms from here back to Lilye Kajo-Keji secondary and connect to county headquarter in Mere, to Nakutu Headquarter which is Jigawt and more possibly to Jalimo and up to Gwari depending on the resources,” he added.

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