THERE IS NO MAN’S LAND IN SOUTH SUDAN: A CASE FOR RAMCIEL CITY

Posted: February 25, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Bëc George Anyak, Glasgow, UK

juba-city-south-sudan

Juba, South Sudan

February 25, 2017 (SSB) — I always scratch my head when I hear some high profile figures from the Government of South Sudan quoting the promised city of Ramciel as a “No Man’s Land”. Whatever the meaning of this coined term, I must confidently say that there is no such thing as No Man’s land in the Republic of South Sudan and Ramciel land is not exceptional for that matter. It has its rightful owners and you will get to know the owners of Ramciel at the concluding part of my piece, but first, I prefer to take you through a brief background about Ramciel City Project and the chronology of events about this Project.

 Before the formation of the autonomous Government of Southern Sudan in 2005, the SPLM under chairmanship of late Dr.John Garang de Mabior formed an assessment committee in 2003 led by Dr. Riek Machar Teny, SPLM Vice Chair for Administration. The committee visited Yirol County which was then under the County Secretary (Commissioner) and the present Governor of Eastern Lakes State Gov.Rin Tueny Mabor and later met Hon. Kon Anok County Secretary of Awerial County. The delegation left Yirol through Madbar, Bunagok to Ramciel and from Ramciel through Thian, Malek then back to Yirol.

The reason of the visit was to assess Ramciel and to enlighten the communities inhabiting it, giving them a message and a decision from the SPLM Leadership on why Ramciel was chosen to be the future capital city of the Republic of South Sudan. A message that was received with joy and happiness by the communities. During the consultation process, the proposed 50kms radius from the center in all directions was partially agreed.

The same Ramciel move was again echoed by the chairman himself when he visited Yirol in November 2004 that all the communities inhabiting Ramciel should cooperate with the leadership of the SPLM in giving Ramciel to the government since it’s the center for the three regions of Bhar el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile respectively. It was a good awareness in giving or allocating Ramciel as a future national capital city of the republic but not on the basis of it being a no man’s land. Ramciel Project was later put on hold due to financial constraints.

As South Sudan gained its independence on 9th July, 2011. The Council of Ministers in their regular meeting met on 2nd September, 2011 and resolved in relocating the city to the promised land of Ramciel. Presidential Order No.17 dated 6th September 2011 forming the Ministerial Committee for Ramciel was instituted under Hon.Nunu Kumba, Minister of Housing and Physical Planning. Minister Nunu constituted Ramciel Project in order to facilitate the whole process which fall under her docket.

Subsequently, $10 billion was later approved to fully facilitate the relocation.  The Government of Lakes State was represented by Hon. Mabor Mayen Wol, Minister for Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies upon nomination by the then Governor, Hon. Chol Tong Mayay and became a member of the National Ministerial Committee as so directed by the President.

South Korean Land and Housing Company was selected among 66 international Companies that competed in the bidding exercise to do a feasibility studies in Ramciel.  The company managed to carry out an aerial survey and reported back that the next phase will be ground survey which will include mapping, feasibility study, environmental and social impact assessment, city structure framework and demarcation of the zones.

How the South Korean company up to date failed to implement the second phase as recommended in their initial reports remains elusive. I mean, whether such failure can be attributed to lack of funding or otherwise, is out of my grasp and that is a question many of you, like myself are yet to find its answer. Indeed, I believe many of you, like myself were almost made to abandon and forget altogether about the survival and existence of Ramciel Project among Government’s priorities.

On the 1st of February 2017, However, came the visit of the Moroccan’s King, His Majesty Mohamed VI to the Republic of South Sudan and thanks to many bilateral agreements that emanated of their successful meeting with the President of the Republic, H.E Salva Kiir, Ramciel City Project came to limelight again and was among the agreements agreed and subsequently signed by the two Countries.

Pertinent to that was one of the most important things; our long held hopes and aspirations for transfer of city to Ramciel got reinstated and with it came a lot of jubilations among South Sudanese. In particular, the most agitated South Sudanese (current non-natives) of Juba City rank high among all the jubilant groups and one can be excused to say that their hysteria was, to some extent justified given all the labelling and all nasty things said of them just for residing in their own City located in other part of the Country that is not their birth or original place of origin.

In the said bilateral agreements and specifically on Ramciel City Project, His Majesty King Mohammed VI pledged $5 million to carry out feasibility study and the full construction funding will be borne by his Country.

All the above developments, together with the long held dream of transferring the city to Ramciel once again, informed the cabinet’s deliberation and subsequent Executive Order by President Kiir on the formation of a five-member Ramciel City Assessment Committee led by the 1st Vice President Gen. Taban Deng Ghai.

The Committee will assess and in due time, presents its findings on Ramciel City to the President or before the Cabinet for further deliberation and, thereafter, recommendations which will determine the next course of action to be taken on Ramciel City Project shall then be adopted.

In the upshot, however, while everything so far looks so good and the Project possessed of it, a wider acceptance and approval by majority of South Sudanese, myself perhaps, included.  The so-called “No man’s Land labeling of Ramciel is contemptuous. Such labelling does not only contradict our laws on land management and policies, it also contradicts article 170 (5) of the Transitional Constitution 2011 {amended} which says that “community land shall include all lands traditionally and historically held or used by local communities or their members. They shall be defined, held, managed and protected by law”.

Ramciel in the ancient and modern times has its owners. It is inhabited/owned of now and before by Aliab Community in the South, Ador Community in the North and Akot and Luac Communities in the West and surrounding waterlands at the eastern part along the Nile remain at the ownership of the said communities.

This must, therefore, unequivocally be noted; Ramciel is a land rightly owned by Greater Yirol community and the community as shown on numerous occasions, welcomes the idea of it being the next City of the Republic. It is not a no man’s land as such. And like any other land in the Country, its usage either by the Government or the community itself should be done so only in accordance with the established relevant laws and in cognizance of the surrounding community (ies).

And of the Presidential Executive Order on the formation of the Assessment Committee, I join a couple others calling for the need of the inclusivity of a member (s) of Yirol community in the Committee. In my opinion, the Presidential Executive order should have included membership of the current Governor of Eastern Lakes State or else the National Legislative Assembly Members of the defunct Aweirial, Yirol East and Yirol West constituents.

The essence of including a local member (s) into the Committee cannot be over emphasized in my view: It gives on one hand, a sense of belonging especially to the inhabiting communities on seeing their son/daughter among the Committee members and the ease of acquaintance of the Committee Members with local communities affected in the areas covering radius 50km on the other. Despite the Committee already having been formed and ready to embark on its task soon, I am still hopeful that President shall look into this important call and put it into consideration.

Welcome to Ramciel-Yirol!

Bëc George Anyak is a Former Commissioner of Yirol West County, Eastern Lakes State and currently, MSc in Applied Economics Student at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in the United Kingdom. He can be reached at email: becgeorge2@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

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Comments
  1. Bullen Budish Bol says:

    Congratulation Hon. Bëc George, South Sudanese should erase from their minds the claim of Ramciel being a ”no man land”, it is belong to Greater Yirol communities as you elaborated otherwise they want to tell us that if it belong to us, we would have denied the country’s access to use that land as city from day one of which we see no reason of refuting national interest in center of Young Nation.

    Like

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