Authorities in the Jonglei State capital, Bor, say plans and preparations are underway to build a temporary dyke to protect the town ahead of the rainy season, but activists there are doubtful, saying the government is impractical.
Last year, vast areas of Jonglei State were hit by floods with Bor, Twic East, and Ayod as the worst-hit places. The floods, the worst since the 1960s, were caused by heavy rains across the East Africa region leading to River Nile bursting its banks.
According to the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC), the floods which started in July displaced 500,000 people from their homes in parts of the state and continues to threaten the civil population as they remain cut off without basic services.
Mabior Bol, the director-general in the state physical infrastructure ministry told Radio Tamazuj Friday that construction on the 24-kilometer dyke is set to commence next week.
“Efforts are going on so that we do not repeat the experience of last year. For Bor town, we are planning to build a new 24-kilometer dyke to preserve the town before May 2021. The dyke will run along the Nile from the Malualagurbar area to the Thonyjou area,” Bol said. “By probably Wednesday next week, the construction work will begin. Now, we are doing the assessment.”
The official assured Bor residents that the dyke will help protect them and their properties before a permanent dyke is built.
“The international community plans to build a permanent dyke that will run from Bor to Twic East. So as the government, we cannot wait. We had to do a temporary one. Last week, the Nile water level was 11.98 meters. This level is very high compared to the previous years, but very low compared to the 14.12 meters in October last year,” he added.
Meanwhile, Samuel Ateny Page, the head of the state floods management task force, said the residents should remain calm, saying the floodwaters had dropped, and that the government is prepared to prevent more floods from submerging the town.
“Last year, it was sudden. It was not expected that the floods would rise. So, now we are prepared, and the construction of dyke is ongoing,” Ateny reassured.
For his part, David Garang Goc, the head of the Jonglei Civil Society Network, condemned the government of inaction since July last year, urging the state authorities to be practical.
“Nothing is being done on the ground. Since last year, we see the government and aid agencies just singing assessments,” he lambasted.
The activist warned of more displacement if the government fails to intervene before the rains start in the coming months.
“My appeal to the government is that they expedite the implementation of the peace agreement because you cannot run the state from Juba and without local governments,” Garang said.