opinionBy Justin Ambago Ramba
South Sudan is often referred to as the quickest changing country in the world, but this is only so because so many things are happening simultaneously in a place where very little else ever existed before. However this observation must be viewed with a pinch of salt as not every change here happens for the better.
For even Juba the seat of the country's government and the main center of events, although it has witnessed many changes since 2005 up to date, it can hardly be said that these changes have been for the better. With an unplanned population rise from an initial of less than 250,000 in 2004, it is now a home to around 1.0 million inhabitants.
It has barely developed from a tiny garrison town into a modern day shanty town with no sewage disposal, no clean drinking water and no central electricity supply. The town's planning authority cannot cope up with the rapid pace of returnee citizens, villages to town immigration and the across border influx of workers and traders.
Caught off guard even the modern buildings that are meant to replace the ramshackle structures have mostly been constructed on either illegally acquired pieces of land or unauthorized plots. What were designated as open parks and playgrounds are now sites of all kinds of buildings.
Unsurprisingly the new country has been more under spontaneous changes than anything planned so as to speak. And the leadership under President Salva Kiir Mayardit is for the best part characterized by slow decision making and inability to prioritize projects and programs in spite of the abundant access that it has to free expert advice and technical opinion.
The decision to abruptly shut down the oil production came towards the last week of January 2012, and for the president to wait until August 2012 to form his belated committee tasked with studying the reconstruction of the government is indeed a very late reaction.
While president Kiir took his time to react to what was an obvious and an expected downside of his decision to shut down the Oil production, it has to be stressed here that other concerned South Sudanese and in its forefront is the United South Sudan Party [USSP] did indeed come out openly not only to suggest but also went on to emphasize the importance of immediately dissolving this bloated cabinet and replacing it with a lean cabinet of technocrats. Follow this link to read the whole article. www.alloexpat.com/sudan.../country-needs-a-care-taker-government.
The SPLM led government of South Sudan under President Salva Kiir Mayardit is infamous for its established characteristic of slowness in considering vital national issues and the snail pace in implementing important projects.
Throughout the reign of this leadership South Sudan has never had anything delivered on time. And I mean anything with the exception of the 2011 self determination referendum and subsequently of course the declaration of the country's independence on July 9th, 2011, both of which were directly overseen by the international community.
Coming to the mother of all issues and that's the construction of alternative pipelines to free South Sudan from depending on the "Jallaba regime" in Khartoum, it can be seen that this same slow thinking leadership failed to read the political forecast properly in as far as the future of the country's Oil Industry is concerned in the light of the ever bumpy relationship that South Sudan has with its northern neighbor.
Many voices have been shouting in the wilderness trying to draw the attention of the people of South Sudan and especially so the attention of the current political leadership - and in fact warning them about the uncertainty attached to the future of the Oil industry. Had they taken heed they would have realized ahead of time the importance of building an alternative pipeline to the Indian Ocean.
Again the USSP has been a forerunner in providing an in-length enlightenment campaign for the construction of an alternative pipeline which it started in 2009 and went on to intensify it in 2010 around the run up to both the general elections and the self-determination referendum. To read the whole article please visit southsudannewsagency.com as it appeared on Jul 10, 2010under the heading: "Oil Pipelines to the Indian Ocean are as important as Independence itself".
In that time and the satellite storage centers for information will remain our sole witness for all the doubting "Thomases" - what we heard from the then national minister of petroleum Dr. Lual Acheick Deng, a senior member of the ruling SPLM party, was nothing but a classical rhetoric of a diehard Unionist. His argument was that an alternative pipeline was not an economical viable project. Follow this link to read the whole article. www.gurtong.net/.../Criticised-Minister-Lual-Dengs-Support-For-Uni.
Today the true nationalists are all out there to challenge those who wanted to guarantee their daily bread at the expense of our long awaited independence. So my dear disciples of the New Sudan Vision, where do you now stand in as far as the economic viability of an alternative pipeline are concerned?
Which one would be easier for you or say economically viable for the republic of South Sudan to undertake so as to save its economy: To disarm the SPLM/A - North (9th and 10th SPLA divisions as preferred to by the NCP) and then be allowed by the Jallaba to use their pipeline or will you go with dignity to support the construction of an alternative pipeline - or seek other ways of exporting the country's Oil to the world markets?
Now almost three years since we have been campaigning for the alternative pipeline and sadly enough till the time of writing these lines, no light exists at the end of the tunnel. We have heard all these stories about Lamu in Kenya and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa over and over again.
We have also heard about the Japanese Toyota Company and a certain Texan Company and other American companies as well, but we haven't seen any work being started yet.
As recently as last year president Kiir knew very well that his enemies in Khartoum are more likely to inflict damage on our citizens using their notorious Antonov which randomly drop bombs where that may be. Yet he took the boys to fight without a sky cover.
Those who read Sudan Tribune on February 13, 2013 will have come across this news heading: Kiir orders troop deployment to border areas with Sudan http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article 45494.
The question that begs an answer is: "Has president Kiir learned anything from the Panthou [Heglig]? And has he now upgraded the army [SPLA] with the much needed anti-aircraft hardware? Which ever way you look at the current situation along our northern borders, it's likely that sooner than later the two countries may easily go back to war.
With all these eminent security threats our army [SPLA] still does not posses any of the sophisticated guns to bring down the enemies Antonov planes which indeed have proved to be a nuisance along the border regions. The military solution to this should have taken the priority.
We cannot talk about not having the funds each time an important issue is discussed when some 75 clearly identified individuals are allowed to walk away with no less than $ 4 billion dollars. That's Kiir's leadership for you.
This is a leadership which only thinks of doing something when the right time is long gone. Why don't they understand that unless a thing is done at the right time, the impact will never be the same?
There is an optimum point in time when an action can yield a maximum result. Otherwise the unnecessary habit of delaying or deferring decisions and actions can be terribly counterproductive.