The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has finally handed over Nyamlel Bridge to the national and Northern Bahr El Ghazal State governments.
With funding from the European Union and the United Nations Office for Project Services, Rhino Company started the bridge works in January 2023 – promising that the project would come to an end in four months.
UNOPS handed over the bride to the government in a ceremony attended by several state and national government representatives.
The field Coordinator or the UN agency urged the government and community to take the responsibility of the constructed Nyamlel bridge for their own good.
“The bridge that we are celebrating here today was the first thing that gave me stress when I first arrived in this area because I had seen it taking lives of people every day,” Ochiri toldAkol Yam FM.
“But since it completed, I will sleep peacefully because I won’t have send people to go and tell Kiir and Tong Akeen how the bridge is killing innocent people.”
For his part, the national Minister of Transport, Madut Biar, said the the bridge will easy movements of people and goods in the area.
“Please take care of this bridge, knowing that it’s you/us who are going to benefit from it. From now, our trade is going to improve because we now have where to pass.”
Some community members, who spoke to Akol Yam FM, expressed their happiness over the completion of bridge construction.
“Women had suffered more due to the unfinished bridge, because those who got ill or had to be rushed to hospital to deliver could not access hospital easily. But we are now hoping things will change from bad to good because we now have the bridge,” said Mary Nyandeng, resident.
Located in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, the bridge is among the eight bridges which were designated to be built under the ‘make unity attractive’ project under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
But when the then Southerners overwhelmingly voted for separation from the Sudan in the January 2011 Referendum and declared independence six months later, the contractor, Ayat company, left it unfinished.
An indispensable bridge that connects Gok Machar of Aweil North County with Aweil West, many risked crossing the bridge on foot.
As a result, officials say as many as 20 people have died trying to cross it since then – with the latest death recorded in June 2022. Chol Akoon, 56, reportedly slipped and fell to his death that day.
Also present at the handover ceremony were: Netherlands Ambassador Therese Marjan Schippers, EU-Head of Delegation Timo OLKKONEN, WFP Deputy Country Director Makena Walker, FAO Country Representative Meshack Oguna Malo, UNOPS South Sudan Country Manager Leslie Mhara, and UNOPS Multi Country Office Director ( MCO) Worknesh Mekkonen Gonet.