Urbanization! What do we have in South Sudan, (Modern) villages or Modern Cities?

Posted: October 1, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Makwei Achol Thiong, Hunan University, China


Juba, South Sudan

September 30, 2017 (SSB) — My argument in this article is not about how far we have developed, but rather how we want our cities to look in 10, 20 or 50 years to come!

Urbanization is not just the population in the city; it’s about enhancing civilization and bringing about more economic and social progress. Agriculture is not a dominant source of income for the urban dwellers. To meet the demands of these city dwellers, you need a PROPER CITY PLAN. Do we have a master plan for Juba city? How about Bor, Wau, Rumbek, Malakal, Torit, Yambio, Aweil, Yei, Bentiu, Abyei, among others? Is it being implemented? I guess some do but others don’t.

I haven’t visited most of these cities but I have been to Juba (the latest is 12 days ago), Yei (in 2007, I guess much has changed since then), Malakal (2012) and Bor where I live. I worked for Bor Municipal Council for three and half years (April 2013 – Sept 2016). We were very lucky to have inherited a planned town council done at the time of Eng. John Amuor Kuol, former Jonglei state Minister of Physical Infrastructure. There are well-surveyed roads, blocks and quarters. In each block, at least there are open spaces for a school, health unit and recreation.

Juba and Malakal are old cities and you could see the beauty of some old buildings. The problem with Juba is that there are no good roads, drainage is poor and slums seem to flourish. The rise of Juba seems misguided by its (unimplemented) Master Plan. The road is a security & insecurity tool. It’s easy to coordinate and arrest a criminal in the city if there are good road networks.

The reverse is true. That is why a lot of criminal activities in Juba and other cities go unpunished. Few roads in good conditions have too much traffic, creating jams and an important appointment with a boss in a certain office is missed. Too much pressure on these few roads reduces their lifespan.

Because of poor city plan or failure to implement the plan, slums that host most of these fake lodges and hotels are the ones where commercial sex booms. Our innocent citizens are getting exposed at the hands of unsafe foreign commercial workers in these lodges. There are no public gardens or open places where one could kill boredom or stresses from home or workplace.

The beautiful Nile scenery is inaccessible because river banks are owned individually as residential or commercial plots. So to get over some stress or boredom, you find yourself in a hotel and resort to drinking beer. After getting drunk, you drive, causes accident and stresses multiply.

On the business front, poor roads don’t make it easy to advertise and locate a business site or areas of potential investment. Supply of goods to some parts of the city in wet season cuts off and economic activities stagnate. Any successful supply would lead to the rising in the final price of the product/goods and consumers are burdened.

For cities with proper MASTER PLANS, like Bor, open spaces already planned for recreation and similar purposes are fast disappearings. The bosses and heavyweight politicians have allotted for themselves these open spaces. On the other hand, the IDPs from insecurity in the countryside have settled on the few left. The city is a mess. The modern city in the map is being redesigned into a BIG VILLAGE to suit individual interest(s). “Surveyors by experience” are redesigning the city by creating new roads and canceling what

The city is a mess. The modern city in the map is being redesigned into a BIG VILLAGE to suit individual interest(s). “Surveyors by experience” are redesigning the city by creating new roads and canceling what are in the map. I guess, similar or worse scenarios are happening across South Sudan in its major cities.

Tomorrow’s mess, which is today’s impediment to development, is being created. Modern villages are emerging in South Sudan but not Modern Cities.

Makwei Achol Thiong is a South Sudanese currently for Studies at Hunan University, China where he is pursuing a Master of Industrial Engineering. You can reach him via the email: makweiachol@yahoo.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is 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, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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