National, News

South Sudan-Ethiopia road project faces setback

By Philip Buda Ladu


A multi-million-dollar road financing agreement between the governments of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and South Sudan is facing setbacks.

Yesterday, a parliamentary session meant to discuss and ratify the agreement was postponed for the second time as the minister of Finance failed to show up in Parliament.

On June 12, the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) postponed deliberation on the road financing agreement between the two countries due to the minister’s absence.

Initially tabled by the Minister of Justice, Ruben Madol, the agreement was meant to cover the construction of the Paloch-Guelguk-Mathiang-Maiwut-Pangak highway connecting South Sudan with Ethiopia.

Four committees were tasked with scrutinizing the report and reverting it for deliberation, which they did on June 12. However, deliberations were halted due to the absence of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Roads and Bridges.

According to the TNLA Conduct of Business Regulation, it is a requirement that ministers be present when a bill or agreement related to their ministries is being discussed in parliament for them to answer and clear MP queries.

Changkuoth Bichiok, the chairperson of the standing specialized committee for finance and planning, presented their scrutinized report to the house in an early attempt to discuss the report and ratify the financing agreement.

He 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.

Additionally, Bichiok stated that 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.

The committees had urged the August House to deliberate on the report, adopt a motion, and pass the report with all its amendments and observations.

Unfortunately, the second attempt to discuss the agreement in the house was once again delayed on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

This was due to the finance minister being abruptly called to the president’s office, which was the same reason for his first absence.

The 2nd deputy speaker of the TNLA, Parmena Awerial, with directives from the Rt. Hon. Speaker, announced the adjournment to lawmakers yesterday.

He said, “the agenda that we have today is very important; we are supposed to have the minister of finance here.”

Awerial acknowledged and commended the presence of the Minister of Roads and Bridges but noted that two of them are supposed to be present for the important sitting.

“Because of the importance of this agenda, we will not proceed without the minister of finance because he has been called while he was here with us in the assembly,” he stated. “So we adjourn our sitting for today. This is the communication that I would like to pass to you.”


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