Nairobi — Several road construction companies are angling for emerging opportunities in South Sudan as the new country begins reconstruction.
The landlocked country is set to build roads linking its various states and the neighbouring countries.
Transport and Roads Minister Anthony Lino Makana said the government has embarked on one of the biggest road construction and infrastructure development in the region, with a target of 7,000 km of road per year.
Construction companies that have done work before or are currently constructing roads in South Sudan include; ABM Construction Company, the Kampala-based Roko Construction Ltd, Texas Sudan Construction Company Ltd, Eyat Road & Bridges Khartoum, Double Alpha Construction from Ethiopia and China National Overseas Engineering Corporation.
The government has rehabilitated 7,000km of murram roads to connect the 10 states and the neigbouring countries, in the past six years. Another 2,000 km feeder roads to agricultural areas has been rehabilitated, while 200 new bridges have been built.
The tarmacking of the 192km Juba-Nimule Road linking South Sudan with Uganda will be completed in April next year.
The road is fully funded by USaid and is estimated to cost $225 million. Rhino Stars Suppliers and Construction Ltd., a Sudanese company, was sub-contracted through a competitive bidding process to repair seven existing bridges along the Juba-Nimule road.
Bright Stars, a Sudanese company was contracted to grade and maintain a section of the road to ensure an uninterrupted flow of traffic between Juba and Nimule. Another key road linking Malakal and Ethiopia started in May and is expected to be completed in 2013.
The Government of South Sudan awarded the project to two construction companies: Khartoum-based Eyat Road & Bridges and Double Alpha Construction, an Ethiopian company that was awarded the tender at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Eyat is constructing 13 road projects worth $568 million in South Sudan.
The World Food Programme is also assisting in opening up South Sudan by increasing access to agricultural production areas, increasing farmer's access to agricultural inputs and markets.
Special emphasis will be on construction of approximately 500 km of feeder roads based on assessments and criteria agreed on by WFP and the Government of South Sudan.
The special operation started in March at a cost of $80 million.
The minister revealed that the government plans to revive building of railway lines in line with its policy to bringing social and economic services to rural areas through provision of affordable transport facilities.
Restoring the railway system would be a platform to achieve the vision of developing rural areas to avoid mass rural-urban migration. Currently, the gap in the rail link from the Mediterranean to Cape Town is in South Sudan, given that the railway from Alexandria in Egypt ends in Wau.
On the aviation side, the Juba International Airport has received a facelift with the intention of making Juba a major hub in the region.
Direct flights from Milan in Italy to Juba and from Johannesburg started a few days before Independence.
Currently there are six daily flights from Nairobi, one each from Cairo, Addis Ababa and Sharjah.