The government of Japan has pledged an additional $28 million for the completion of Freedom Bridge whose construction has been suspended across the Nile river in Juba -since 2016.
The construction of the 3.6-kilometer-long bridge was inaugurated by President Salva Kiir and the Japan International Cooperation Agency in March 2015. The estimated cost of the construction was $91 million and was expected to reach completion within a few years.
JICA had also been working on supplying piped-water to households in Juba.
But when renewed conflict erupted in 2016, Japanese aid workers were evacuated from South Sudan and suspended the constructions of Freedom Bridge along the Nile and the provision of clean water in Juba until peace is restored and security improved in the country.
But last year, a technical team from Japan carried out an assessment on the 3.6-kilometer-long bridge to help the Japanee government in its resumption plans.
According to the Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan, they are now closer to resuming the suspended projects.
Ambassador Seiji Okada said the bridge’s final handover is now expected to take place by 2021.
“These projects of constructing the bridge and water are our investments from Japan to South Sudan for the future promotion and strengthening of economic relations between the two countries,” Ambassador Okada said during a memo signing meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Juba yesterday.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial lauded the Japanese government’s efforts to see South Sudan “stand on its own feet.”
“We remain profoundly grateful to Japan for these types of projects that are untimely designed to help win South Sudan off external dependency and lock its own huge potential,” Nhial said.
Ambassador Okada reiterated that the re-opening of the construction of the bridge was one of the promises made to President Kiir by Japan during his first bilateral meeting in 2017.
“The whole goal is bringing economic prosperity to South Sudan so that in future the government of Japan can take measures to bringing their investments. This is very important and it is a win-win situation for both South Sudan and Japan,” he emphasized.
He added that Japanese investments in South Sudan -either through funding the peace process, or development projects -is meant to enable the private sector to take off in building the economy.
“So our support here isn’t simple.”