Traditional houses in Gumuruk in the greater Jonglei area. Soon their inhabitants shall enjoy an improved version of the Bor-Pibor road passing by their community.
The community of Gumuruk, along the often impassable road between Bor and Pibor in the Jonglei area, is celebrating: their lifeline is being rehabilitated by the Korean engineering contingent serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Local residents hope that a better, all-weather road will bring security, peace and stability to an area marred with criminal activities such as cattle raiding and child abductions. A decent road between Bor and Pibor should, among other benefits, enable UN peacekeepers and security forces to carry out necessary patrols.
The Commissioner of Gumuruk County, Anthony Baba, said the road would enable trade within Jonglei and reduce the infighting between the Murle communities.
“The fighting that continues between youth groups has cost many lives. We walk through the forest with organized forces to rescue our people, but now this road will ease our movements”, he said.
The acting Governor, Omot Ogul, also pledged his commitment to support efforts by the UN Mission to rebuild the infrastructure in the region, for example by making sure that the Korean engineers can go about their work unharmed.
A resident of Gumuruk, Jacob Lobochok, said that many local women have died as a consequence of poor road conditions.
“During the wet season, pregnant women from Gumuruk are carried on people’s backs to get medical attention in Pibor”, he said, praising the road rehabilitation initiative as an “opportunity”.
The chairwoman of the Gumuruk women’s group, Elizabeth Konyi, thanked UNMISS for listening to the pleas of her community.
“We are happy that UNMISS listens to the voices of poor women and children here. This better road will also facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, if and when necessary,” Ms. Konyi said.
The community is hoping that the road work can be completed before the arrival of the rainy season, which normally makes life hard and contributes to higher prices for necessities. A bottle of water, for instance, currently costs a whopping 350 SSP, almost two dollars.
The rehabilitation of the Bor-Pibor road is part of a greater UNMISS vision to improve the infrastructure in South Sudan. The UN peacekeeping mission is aiming to improve 2,350 km of roads across the young East African nation.