South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit has suspended with an immediate effect the anticipated dredging of rivers in the country.
The suspension comes barely a day after a public consultation conducted by experts and academicians at the University of Juba called on the government to first carry out a feasibility study before the dredging.
During his address to the nation on the 11th anniversary of independence, President Kiir directed that credible and independent environmental and social impact assessment be undertaken to find out the viability of the dredging agreement.
Kiir noted that in the last few weeks, the country has been engaged in an informative debate over the issues of dredging the Bahr el Ghazal basin specifically the Naam River.
He also agreed that the two groups have put forward genuine opinions both for and against dredging.
“The contending sides have put forward legitimate arguments both for and against dredging,” Kiir said.
“Those who support dredging see it as a permanent solution to persistent floods in low-lying areas others in the same group see it as a means of opening our waterways for river transport that will ease transportation bottlenecks in the country. On the other side of the debate, dredging without proper studies is viewed as a path to the ecological disaster that will change South Sudan’s biodiversity forever," President Kiir stated.
He said the opposing group fears the loss of marshlands which are the lifeline of different animal species and a means of livelihood for our fishermen.
“In short, this group opposes dredging on the base of adverse environmental concerns and anticipated loss of their economic livelihood”, Kiir added.
President Kiir stated that he suspended the project to allow for an inclusive and in-depth study of the agreement and its long-term impacts on the environment.
“Having followed this debate keenly, I realized that this outcry from public consultation from both sides came because we have not conducted a public consultation.”
“I am today freezing any planned dredging activities in the sud region until credible, professional, evident-based studies are carried out on the impacts of dredging both on the surrounding communities and ecosystem”, President Kiir announced.
Kiir also directed the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to initiate the process of identifying and eventually hiring credible experts who will carry out the said feasibility studies.
Source: Radio Tamazuj