National, News

Auditor unearths fraud in Juba-Rumbek road project

By Aweye Teddy Onam


In a striking revelation, Auditor General Ambassador Steven Kiliona Wondu has unearthed extensive fraud in the construction of the Juba-Rumbek road.

The construction of the highway began in 2019 and is financed by allocating 10,000 barrels of crude oil per day for infrastructure development to China Exim Bank.

Shandong Hi-Speed Nile Investment Development Co. Ltd was contracted to undertake the project at a cost of USD 711,125,700.

The 396 km, two-lane road was initially expected to be completed by July 2023, however, an audit report has now revealed that only 63 KM (16%) have been completed.

After conducting a thorough audit of the project, the National Audit Chamber has identified setbacks that have hindered the efficient implementation of the road.

Auditor Wondu said there was noncompliance with section 28 of the South Sudan Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act 2018, and the contractor was procured through single sourcing, making it difficult to confirm the award of the contract to the most competent contractor at the most reasonable price.

The Roads Authority is mandated to take the role of project manager for all trunk roads in South Sudan, but the audit report revealed that the Authority was not involved in the construction of the road.

Ambassador Wondu said the Road Authority was only involved when a committee was formed to investigate and recommend remedial actions after the road was destroyed by floods.

“It was not clear why the road authority was not involved in the construction,” he told parliament on Wednesday.

He further revealed that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry was not initially involved in the feasibility study, leading to inadequate design and missing hydrological information on water volume.

When the road was destroyed by flood in 2022, Wondu said construction work was halted and the design was revised, resulting in an additional cost of USD 25,408,025, increasing the contract price from USD 711,125,700 to USD 736,533,725.

“The delays and the extra cost could have been avoided if the Environmental Social Impact Assessment had been properly done from the beginning,” he said.

The construction of the road was financed through a bilateral agreement between the governments of South Sudan and China.

The initial plan was to sell crude oil, but according to Wondu, the Ministry of Finance did not provide a clear breakdown of how the road was being funded.

According to the audit report, records from the Ministry of Petroleum indicated that 21,780,134 barrels of crude oil worth USD 1, 558,763,802 had been shipped between 2019 to 2022.

But Wondu said the auditors could not determine how much of that oil was meant for Financing the construction of the Juba-Rumbek road.


It is recommended that the Juba-Rumbek Rod project be returned to the Ministry of Roads and Bridges and the Road Authority for reevaluation and possible relaunch on a new basis.

The report recommended that the government should ensure that procurement of road construction contractors is done in collaboration with the Ministries of Roads and Bridges, Finance and Planning, and the Road Authority.

It further recommends clear financing arrangements, project budgeting, and timely contractor payments which are essential for the successful completion of the road project.

The report further recommends that all major construction contracts should provide for payment of performance bank guarantee and punitive measures in case of noncompliance.

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