Washington, DC — On September 12, U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page and President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit inaugurated South Sudan's 192-kilometer-long Juba-Nimule Road, the largest infrastructure project ever built in South Sudan, and the young nation's first paved highway.
The inauguration comes one day after the two governments signed a new bilateral assistance agreement, which provides the legal framework for the U.S. Government's provision of development assistance to South Sudan.
The Juba-Nimule Road was the top infrastructure priority of the Government of South Sudan following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan's civil war. The road has reduced travel time between Nimule and Juba from eight hours to less than three hours, linking Juba with Uganda and providing the shortest, most efficient route to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya.
"This road literally paves the way to South Sudan's future," said U.S. Ambassador Page. "The road has integrated South Sudan into East African transportation and trade corridors, bringing to the people of South Sudan ordinary goods they need day to day, humanitarian assistance for those in need, as well as equipment and materials for those who are investing and building in South Sudan."
President Kiir lauded the continuing friendship of the American and South Sudanese people, as exhibited in the building of this important road. "These are our friends, and they will be our friends for good," he said. "This is an achievement that should not be forgotten," he added.
The U.S. Government, through USAID, also helped the Government prepare policy and implementation guidelines for establishing and enforcing axle load controls to prevent overloading of trucks, which can be dangerous and make the road deteriorate more quickly. USAID is also working with the Ministry of Roads and Bridges on allocation of space for construction of weigh stations. The Draft Traffic Act, which is being reviewed by the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, will provide the legal basis for regulating and enforcing axle load control and other operations and use of the road networks.
The road has generated economic activities along the route, and created employment and training opportunities for South Sudanese communities, thereby enhancing stability. It has also facilitated the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and provides security and improved access to services such as health care.
The project, which began in 2007, included demining; grading and tarmacking the road; construction of eight new bridges built to modern standards to handle truck traffic, replacing dangerous, decades-old bridges; and a road safety education program that won the 2011 International Road Federation global achievement award on road safety.
When the project began, the route between Juba and Nimule was unpaved and difficult to travel. The improved road has not only reduced travel time and enhanced trade, but has brought other benefits to local communities and the government, including boreholes that were drilled in locations so that communities could benefit from them following the road construction, and training of South Sudanese companies in road maintenance, so that local private sector companies will have the skills needed to maintain the Juba-Nimule road and other roads throughout South Sudan.
Three construction camps that were used for road building activities have been handed over to the Ministry of Roads and Bridges for use in road maintenance and highway patrol.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, in partnership with the Department of Justice, trained the first-ever Highway Patrol Unit in South Sudan to provide a police presence and enhance road safety on the vital Juba-Nimule Highway. In the fall of 2011, the program provided training to the officers of the Highway Patrol Unit, and in summer 2012, 10 motorcycles and safety equipment were turned over to the officers who use them to patrol the highway.