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South Sudan-Ethiopia road financing agreement deferred over ministers’ absence

By Bida Elly David


Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly has postponed deliberation on a road financing agreement between South Sudan and Ethiopia due to the absence of the ministers concerned.

The agreement, which was initially tabled by the Minister of Justice, Ruben Madol, was meant to cover the construction of the Paloch-Wenguk, Mathian-Maiwut-Pangak highway. Four committees were tasked to scrutinize the report and revert it back for deliberation.

Changkuoth Bichiok, the chairperson of the standing specialized committee for finance and economy, said the committees observed that the proposed $738 million cost for the 220-kilometre road was too high, amounting to $3.35 million per kilometre.

“The committees observed that the US$738 million for the 220-kilometre is too high because the amount is equivalent to 3.35 million per one kilometre if we use a direct calculation,” Bichiok said.

The committee chair also noted that the agreement did not mention the amount of money South Sudan would contribute to the project, which was partially funded by the Ethiopian government.

Additionally, he said the Minister of Roads and Bridges had clarified that the actual length of the road could be 320 kilometres, as it would pass through a swamp and black cotton soil, requiring extensive excavation.

In their recommendations, the committees urged the House to express appreciation to the government and people of Ethiopia for their support in promoting cooperation and environmental activities in South Sudan.

They also recommended that the House adopt a resolution and approve the financing agreement.

However, Rt. Hon.  Jemma Nunu Kumba, the Speaker of the Assembly, objected to the report in the absence of the concerned ministers, stating that it is a requirement for the ministers to be present when a bill or agreement related to their ministries is being discussed.

“It has been a practice and a requirement that when a bill is tabled which is related to a particular ministry, the minister should be there. The ministers must be there,” Nunu said.

The Speaker did not provide a specific timeline for when the ministers would be summoned to appear before the House but emphasized that it is a standard procedure for the ministers to attend the proceedings, regardless of whether the discussion is related to their institutions.

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