South Sudan Takes Another Step Towards Developing a New Capital

Juba — South Sudan's cabinet on Friday took another step towards implementing the plan to relocate the national capital from Juba to Ramciel in accordance with the resolution it passed last year.

Following a six-year protracted stalemate over the jurisdiction and administration of Juba city between three levels of government; namely national government, Central Equatoria state and Juba County, all of which claim Juba as their respective capital, the cabinet last year resolved to relocate the national capital to the interior part of the nation in Lakes state, north of Juba.

The minister of Housing and Physical Planning, Jemma Nunu Kumba, was charged with the task to head a committee for the relocation process. Nunu contracted a South Korean company to do the feasibility study and make the necessary aerial and ground surveys of Ramciel in order to present to the cabinet any further action.

The thinking is that the new capital will be built within a specified designated "federal territory" with clear boundaries and will enjoy an exclusive national jurisdiction free from any claim by any of the states. The city shall be administered by a mayor appointed from any part of South Sudan and the position will eventually be electable by the city dwellers.

Ramciel's federal territory is estimated at the radius of 40km from its center and curbs some parts of Jonglei state, just across the Nile, and Central Equatoria state, particularly in Tali area.

In the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the cabinet endorsed progress reports which were jointly presented by minister Nunu and her technical team including the consultants.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister of information told the press on Friday after the meeting that based on the reports presented the cabinet endorsed specific sites where the new Ramciel city center shall be developed within the allocated overall federal territory.

South Sudan also plans to build in Tali one of the biggest international airports in Africa for the new capital. This is also to try to compensate for the region being a landlocked country, officials say. The government has been studying possibilities to form alliances with some of the best international airlines in order to make it happen.

The government however acknowledges lack of funds to build the new city on its own but works to attract foreign direct and indirect investments to build it. For instance one of the international housing companies a few months ago in Juba declared its readiness to construct over four thousand modern residential houses in real estates in the new capital.

The national government has for the last one year resolved to stop constructing new government buildings in Juba, except for Central Equatoria state, and also informed diplomatic missions about the relocation plan.

The road connecting Juba and Ramciel has been successfully cleared and vehicles take about 4 to 5 hours on the bad road and may take only 2 hours if tarmacked.

However, allocations of plots and constructions of permanent buildings may not begin in the new city until after a design of a Master Plan, which will outline the sections of Ramciel, is completed during the first quarter of next year.

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