Juba — A delegation of US Senators have urged President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan to alternatively begin to truck his country's oil to the international market through Ethiopia instead of ever waiting for Khartoum to honour its agreements on oil transport.
In May last year South Sudanese oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau tld the Wall Street Journal that his country plans to use trucks to export at least 10 % of its oil production, 35,000 barrels a day, through Djibouti after crossing Ethiopia and the Kenyan maritime port of Mombasa.
The Senators who visited Juba this week include Senator Steve Pearce of New Mexico carrying the message which urged Kiir to immediately transport its oil by trucks, saying Khartoum's act of stopping the flow of oil "doesn't make sense."
The Senators, who later gave statements to the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Sunday, said their government would support the new alternative initiative to truck the oil to the international market in order to generate significant amount of revenues for the country's economy.
Senator Steve Pearce questioned the logic why South Sudan with such huge resources should suffer economically.
However, the country has the plan in place already to alternatively truck the oil through Ethiopia from Upper Nile state but there was need to construct a tarmacked road to connect Upper Nile and Ethiopia which will be able to withstand the frequent heavy traffic of big oil trucks.
The road to connect Upper Nile state and Gambella region of Ethiopia was one of the priority roads such as that of Juba-Nimule road which connects South Sudan and Uganda because of their economic importance.
The construction of the road could not take off early because of financial constraints which the government is trying to address and has already launched the road construction which may take some months to complete.
The Ethiopian government had already constructed a paved road which connects its western part of Gambella region and the capital, Addis Ababa, but are awaiting South Sudan to complete its part in order to utilize their road.
South Sudan signed an agreement in February 2012 with Kenya and Ethiopia and to construct the Lamu Port Ethiopia-South Sudan Transport Corridor (LAPPSSET) infrastructure project, which is expected to cost 25 billion U. S. dollars.
The project aims to create a regional rail, road and port facilities across the three countries.
In January 2012, landlocked South Sudan ordered an oil export shutdown after failing to reach an agreement with Sudan over the terms of using the oil exportation facilities in the north. At the time Juba accused Khartoum of "stealing" an estimated $350 million worth of its oil.
However in September 2012 the two countries reached a deal allowing the resumption of oil exportation but Sudan says the pumping of South Sudanese production can only start when Juba government disengages with Sudanese rebels.