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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 16:33 GMT
Peace brings boom to south Sudan
By Jonah Fisher
BBC News, Juba

Two years after a deal was signed to end the long conflict in southern Sudan, bulldozers and diggers are hard at work transforming Juba, a town of mud huts and dirt roads, into what could soon be a 21st Century international capital.

Bulldozers in Juba
Juba has become a huge building site
Long-time southern rebel leader John Garang told a signing ceremony in Nairobi on 9 January 2005 that true peace would only come with economic development.

He died in a helicopter crash later that year but in the roads around his steel framed mausoleum in Juba, Mr Garang's dream of lifting southern Sudan out of poverty is still alive.

A plume of dust surrounds the heavy duty machinery on the track that leads from the airport to parliament.

Six months ago the whole of southern Sudan had just 10km of tarmac road.

Thanks to a multi-million dollar contract, Juba alone will soon have over 60km.

Electricity pylons are being erected and new water and sewage systems are planned for later in the year.

Oil money

"We can be proud of what we've achieved so far," says south Sudan's Vice-President Riek Machar.

"Before we could do anything we had to set up a government, a civil service and to establish accounting and financial procedures."

Mary Sufu
I feed my children now with food that they didn't even know about before
Mary Sufu
Though it started work without basic infrastructure, the southern Sudanese government does have money.

As part of the peace agreement with the north, the south gets 50% of Sudan's oil revenue.

At the moment that means about $800m a year.

But not much of that cash has reached Bulluk-A primary school.

Ragged white tents in the dusty playground now serve as classrooms to many of its over 2,000 pupils.

High prices

Encouraged by the peace deal, hundreds of thousands of southerners have returned to their homes but the education system simply can't cope with the influx of children.

"These children instead of sitting on the floor bring stones so they don't get their dresses dirty," says teacher Mary Sufu with an exasperated smile.

Schoolchildren sitting on stones
Children use stones as chairs in their tent school
As if learning with no desks, tables or textbooks wasn't hard enough, Ms Sufu's class of 180 children are also grappling with a syllabus that is being changed from Arabic to English.

Just down the road from Bulluk-A is Customs market where Ms Sufu shops for her five children.

During the civil war, government-controlled Juba was surrounded on all sides by rebel forces and food had to be flown in from Khartoum.

The food at Customs market was expensive and most of it in tins.

The opening of roads to Uganda and Kenya has changed everything.

"There's plenty of food now in the market and it's cheap," Ms Sufu says as she shoves sweet potatoes and pineapples into her plastic bag.

"I feed my children now with food that they didn't even know about before."

It's not just fruit and vegetables that are coming across the border in trucks.


Ugandans and Congolese have established a presence in a market once dominated by northern traders.

Motorbikes, mobile phones, cheap electronics and beer are all selling well to eager Juba residents.

"The prices are high, we're getting a lot of profit," says one bare-chested trader as he plays a board game with his fellow Ugandans.

"A generator here costs 4.9 million shillings ($2,500), we buy it in Uganda for 2.9 million($1,600)."

At the moment the south governs itself but remains part of Sudan.

Under the terms of the peace agreement a referendum on independence will be held in 2011.

If Juba's boom continues, that could encourage a vote for independence and the city completing its remarkable transformation.

How much has Juba and the rest of southern Sudan changed in the past two years?

Your comments:

The expectations are very high among our people and the government here is trying its best to bring back life to people of southern Sudan. I am proud of the electricity project which so far has the most impressive work done. The roads are also getting done but other sectors like health and Education need to be priorities. Gender balance, especially on the side of women, is poor and therefore needs to be addressed. Another issue is corruption. This has to be tackled otherwise we might end up disappointing god father Dr John Garang. I appreciate Ugandans and Kenyans who are helping us to get better but my anger does not wilt for those attacking along the Juba Torit Nimule road. Never forget yesterday when building for tomorrow. For Yesterday you were in Uganda and Kenya. Let's live like brothers.
Utuwa Fidelia, Juba, Sudan

I am happy with what is going on in Sothern Sudan, I hope that the Kony business succeeds as well as the peace talks.
Timothy Emong, Kampala, Uganda

I am very happy indeed that there is life and progress in my homeland of southern Sudan and very glad the Western world is there to help. God will bless will and your everlasting help.
Mathew Tong, Aweil, South Sudan

I think Juba is changing for the better but needs investors to come and see what is needed on the ground.
Ahmed Abdulrahman, Sudanese working in Khartoum, Saudi Arabia

Southern Sudan is going through both an economic and social transformation. The Salva-Machar administration is concentrating most on security, arms are rampant and in the wrong hands, and financial systems are not yet in place. As Fisher hinted, Garang's dream of turning the south from an impoverished region to a rich one, must be accomplished. It is one of the priorities for Salva and his team. The southern Sudanese have experienced economic growth in the past two years and security for lives and property continues to improve as well.
Ham B Rugangura, Kampala, Uganda

This is an amazing town to live in. The speed of re-development is astonishing. It changes week by week in front of your eyes. A lot of people are looking at Juba with optimism, hoping that it is a sign of things to come for the development of the whole of southern Sudan. However with changes come problems and Juba is no exception. We see gruesome motorbike and vehicle accidents on a daily basis, as unskilled drivers with newly released oil money buying and driving vehicles they have no experience of. Hospital emergency wards are being nicknamed after the cheap Chinese brand of motorbike which is all too readily available. So much depends on the continued high-profile implementation of the CPA. If all sides are able to make this work and the oil money flows South we could see Juba as the next Dubai.
John Tipper, Juba, Sudan


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