On Thursday, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit finally opened the Freedom Bridge for vehicles and pedestrians in Juba.
The top government officials and diplomats, including the African Union Envoy for infrastructure, Raila Odinga, attended the commissioning of the new bridge.
The bridge was built by the Japanese government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
President Kiir says the inaugurating of the bridge is long overdue since the project was identified in 2011 for regional integration and economic growth. “This bridge falls our priorities of reconnecting South Sudan to the region via the road network to facilitate trade.”
“Today is a great day for the city of Juba, the country of Sudan, the region. The freedom bridge, which is 560 meters long, is a reality. I want to thank the government and the people of Japan for this important gift to the people of South Sudan,” Kiir said.
Kiir says the bridge will stand as lasting evidence of the true friendship between South Sudan and Japan.
President assured the citizens that opening the Freedom bridge was the beginning of development. His government was committed to implementing the peace agreement and ending the war that held the progress of South Sudan from developing.
“War holds the progress and the delay to complete Freedom Bridge is a living example of how the war delayed development.”
Kiir warned the driver to stop recklessness so that the bridge last longer
“To the resident of Juba and others who will be using this bridge, I urged you all to appreciate our Japanese friends by taking good care of the bridge. Let’s drive safely because it’s our new lifeline and a gateway to the region.”
The President of JICA, Dr. Tanaka Akihiko, says the bridge will contribute to economic development that will benefit South Sudan and the East African region.
He says the bridge will be a symbol of nation-building through human resource development, freedom, and peace for the people of South Sudan.
Dr. Akihiko highlighted numerous challenges that delayed the bridge’s completion on time, including lack of stability and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since construction commenced in 2013, work was suspended three times due to the conflict in 2013, in July 2016 and COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020.”
JICA hopes the bridge will promote peace and stability through its essential function to help in the safe delivery of aid to needy people.
“The opening of the first permanent bridge over the Nile in South Sudan will greatly contribute to Juba’s social and economic activities and the stable supplies of humanitarian aid to the internally displaced person and conflict-affected people living in the rural areas,” Akihiko said.
According to JICA, the Freedom Bridge construction has cost nearly 100 million US dollars, funded by the Japanese government.