By Bida Elly David
Council of Ministers resolved to halt the South Sudan-Ethiopian-signed agreement on road infrastructure on the ground that it was not properly drafted.
In May of this year, Juba and Addis Ababa inked a deal to construct the Paloch-Mathiang-Maiwut-Pagak road connecting to Ethiopia’s Gamballa region, but the agreement was kept for deliberation.
Michael Makuei, the minister of information, said the cabinet discovered some reservations within the agreement that need to be studied first before the project commences.
“The observation was that there were references to crude oil. Reference to payment where they are not properly drafted, and as such, ministers agreed to return the deal to the concerned ministries with Ethiopia for final work,” Makuei told reporters after Friday’s cabinet meeting.
He stated that unless the document is thoroughly scrutinized in totality, the project will never be implemented.
“How can the council approve an unclear document for implementation? The document cannot be implemented as long as it is not clear and agreed upon,” Makuei argued.
He said the council of ministers therefore resolved that South Sudan and Ethiopia ought to review the agreement before it is passed to the parliament for further deliberations.
“We are waiting for the parties—the South Sudan government and Ethiopia—to review the agreement to come out in an acceptable format to be implemented,” he noted.
Makuei added that four ministers concerned with the agreement have been instructed to ensure that the document is clearly drafted, after which, if agreed on, it will be tabled before R-TNLA for rectification.
He said the four ministries were also directed to report all the amendments that would emerge from the scrutiny of the signed agreement.
“The document was passed with the reservations, and the ministers of finance, justice, roads and bridges, and petroleum were instructed to trace out all these reservations with the Ethiopian government,” he added.
The roads that the two governments agreed to construct connect Western Ethiopia with the north-eastern Sudan.
The agreement was signed by the State Minister of Finance of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Eyob Tekalign (Ph.D.), and the former Finance Minister of South Sudan, Dier Tong Ngor (Ph.D.), according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
The agreement was signed in the presence of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayarid.
During the occasion, President Kiir said, “Our hope is to move together to help one another; this is what our people want to see. This is a strategic project that connects our people and serves their needs.”
Ethiopian State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign, on his part, said that the construction of this road will bring people from the two sister countries together, in addition to providing seamless commercial connectivity.
At the event, the two sides conversed about enhancing infrastructure development such as electricity, oil pipelines, and others that catalyze regional economic integration.
The completion of this road construction is expected to impact the economic activities of the sisterly countries as well as play a pertinent role in cementing peace in parts of the regions of both countries.