Long separated by the Jur river, the Lunyaker, Kwacjok, and Kang regions are now linked by the Kwacjok Bridge, which opened on Tuesday (4) in South Sudan.
With 120-meter, the bridge is part of a € 20.3 million (US$ 24.8 million) European Union-funded project to build and maintain a total 100 kilometers of road infrastructure in Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.
Built at a total cost of US$6.5 million, the bridge will connect tens of thousands of people and is key not only for humanitarian operations but is expected to boost farm-to-market access and commercial activities in the region as well.
“The project is more than just a bridge,” says Rebecca Okwaci, Minister of Roads and Bridges. “This is an investment in various sectors of South Sudan including education, agriculture, health, transport, and tourism.”
The construction was undertaken in phases since January 2018.
“This bridge is part of a larger infrastructure investment programme which has been continuously supported by the European Union, since 2012, with a significant financial contribution of over €58 million,” says EU Ambassador to South Sudan Dr Sinead Walsh.
“I am proud to see how effectively the EU funds have been channeled for the benefit of the end users and the communities of this region and I reaffirm that the EU will stand with the South Sudanese people on their path towards peace, stability, security, and prosperity.”
The Importance of Roads
South Sudan has a road network of over 20,000 kilometers, but only 200 kilometers is paved.
Road travel is, therefore, difficult with 60 percent of the country inaccessible during the six-month-long rainy season from June to November every year.
The Kwacjok Bridge is the latest WFP engineering project in South Sudan. Since 2013, WFP has completed the construction and upgrade of more than 500 kilometers of roads and built 30 structures including culverts and bridges across Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria, Warrap and Western Bahr el Gazal.
“The project will transform the dynamics of transportation in surrounding communities and counties,” says Ronald Sibanda, WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan. “As well as improving the movement of goods and people, the bridge lays a strong foundation for the socio-economic growth of the region by facilitating regional trade and community integration across the river.”