South Sudan NEWS PORTAL (JUBA CITY)
A road engineer has urged the government to ban heavy trucks from using the Juba Bridge as it nears collapse.
Peter Atem runs Rhino Star Construction Company, which has been handling rehabilitation work on the bridge.
Atem says it has reached a dangerous stage that requires major reconstruction. Currently, only one lane of the bridge is being used.
Juba Bridge was constructed in 1972 and it underwent some repairs in 2008. An accident in 2010 left one lane of the bridge unusable for heavy vehicles.
Recently, truck drivers were warned against using the bridge because of its dilapidated condition, an advice that went unheeded.
Most of the trucks that enter Juba through Juba Bridge carry fuel and other commodities for the market.
The bridge remains the only link between Juba and East Africa.
Atem says the tarmac on the remaining lane is worn out, and the iron bars have been weakened by heavy loads and overuse.
â€œWhen it collapses, we will be disconnected from East Africa for quite sometimes,â€� he told Eye Radio on Wednesday. â€œLet the government think about it.â€�
In 2012, President Salva Kiir made the repair of the bridges as one of his governmentâ€™s priorities during the administrationâ€™s first 100 days.
But in August, the Committee of Transport, Roads and Bridges at the national parliament observed that the Ministry of Finance had failed to release the full allocated budget for the Ministry of Transport during the 2018/2019 financial year.
It says only 58 million South Sudanese Pounds was given for the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.
According to Rhino Star Construction Company, reconstruction work on the Juba Bridge alone requires $4 million.
The parliament noted that 1.5 billion pounds was allocated to the Roads Authority to cover costs for maintenance of the Juba-Nimule road, but the funds were not released by the Finance Ministry.
In this fiscal year 2019/2020 budget, over 118 billion pounds has been allocated to the infrastructure sector.
Three billion pounds was also allocated to the Revenue Authority for the maintenance of the Juba â€“ Nimule highway, the Juba Nile Bridge and other bridges along the Nimule road.
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