If not my house then whose? The case of ongoing demolition in Bor Town

Posted: March 3, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël in Junub Sudan

If not my house then whose? The case of ongoing demolition in Bor Town

Makwei Achol Thiong, China

March 3, 2018 (SSB) — I heard that demolition has extended to my compound in Bor. Three houses are gone except kitchen. My family is camping in the open. But what do we need of emerging cities like Bor?

The urbanization phenomenon gives us the belief that we must shift from traditional village settlement characterized by slumization to modern cities. Modern cities are collections of people and innovations, organize and manage by government institutions and assisted by private associations to enhance businesses and bring about more economic and social progress.

Inasmuch as cities are meant to improve people’s livelihoods, they also tend to be hotspots of crime and inequality. To put it in the words of Robert Adam “the modern city is the wilderness, the urban jungle”. Cities are places of divergence. The challenge is how to enhance sound urban civilization in the midst of all these retorts.

In South Sudan, urban growth is misguided. It’s struggling to takeoff and/or shrug-off the concepts of traditional settlement. Look at Juba, the country’s capital, you’ll find that as big as residential block/quarter is predominantly inhabited by a family (relatives). Any efforts by concern local government authorities to implement City’s Master Plans are met with deadly venom.

Yes, insecurity in most of our rural villages forces people to seek resettlement in urban cities where there is relative tranquility and might have aided such kind of settlement. But again, when we (are) resettled in the city, we need social services availed to us. We need good roads, clean water, good schools, recreation points, proper drainage, etc.

Those criminals you deserted your village of will still follow you to the city if they have nothing to dwell on there. And if they learn new tricks from elite gangs of the city, urban life would turn horrible. Because all of them will prey on you badly. So allow city authorities to help you response to any emergency they may cause in the future. And this response to future emergency is what is called Municipal/City Master Plan. It can even include creating a new society where your neighbor is not your relative, if it solves certain problem.

We need good roads, clean water, schools, proper drainage for flood-prone cities like Bor, recreation points, etc. But such services can not be advanced without Municipal Plans being implemented. Stepwise, the town develops as a slum or more like an extended family. No innovation, social and economic civilization is  hindered. In fact, the whole town would be a Big Village.

Few months into office, the Mayor of Bor City, Hon. Gai Makhor has started where only Hon. Kuol Manyang Juuk could contemplate – the land issue and to be particular the opening up of new roads. The difference between his approach and that of his predecessor, Hon. Akim Ajieth is that, the later was community centered. That is, chiefs and community representatives led the exercise and supported by municipal staffs. The shortcomings of this approach were its manipulation by some individuals which went to the extent of diverting the already surveyed roads to suit their interests.

Gai’s approach is government centered and seems healthy of those shortcomings, atleast until now. His government should go extra mile to clearing all the public spaces currently on unilateral or compromised occupation. Do justice to those (being) displaced by the ongoing demolition by allotting them plots because rainy season is fast approaching.

It’s ideal to encroach development agenda with new initiatives. This demolition is one of them. If survey map dictates that you give up your house for public goods, then it’s important to respect such calls.

If not my house then whose?

Makwei Achol Thiong is a Co-founder and a former Chair of Board of Directors of Alliance High School-Bor. He is currently pursuing a Master of Industrial Engineering at Hunan University, China. Reach him via makweiachol@yahoo.com.

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