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South Sudan News

Onyoti Urges Lawmakers To Work Towards Peace Implementation

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By Garang Abraham Malak

 

The Member of Parliament representing Democratic Change party (DCP) in the transitional parliament, Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec has urged lawmakers to unite their ranks and work for unity of the war-torn country.   


Nyikwec exclusively told The Nation Mirror on Tuesday that there was need for parliamentarian to unite their ranks and avoid division along their political interest but work for the betterment of the nation. “Lawmakers should not be under the direction of the Executive since both are separate institutions, members of parliament needs unity for the nation prosper,” Nyikwec told this medium. “People need to collectively work together in order to solve issues affecting the country. When all the parliamentarians are committed and united, peace can prevail,” He added.


Since independence, the legislative arm of the government has been considered by government critic as rubber stamp. “If parliament is divided under the patronage of the Executive then that should not be called a parliament but a different house,” he stressed.  


He said parliament is the last hope of the masses that should advocate strong views reflecting citizen’s aspiration toward their government. The former minority leader in the then national legislative assembly appealed to armed forces to respect ceasefire and consider the suffering of masses countrywide. “Some people are living happily and enjoying while others are suffering moving day and night wondering what to eat and where to sleep,” he said.


 Onyoti stated that the constitution and the agreement are not in harmony and that it has caused heavy suffering to the local population. He further explained that the agreement and constitution are parallel and because of that people cannot prosper.

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U.S Diplomat Defends SPLA In Congressional Panel

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By Staff Writer

 

The US special envoy to South Sudan and Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth who was interrogated in US Congressional panel about events in South Sudan, has described an event where SPLA allegedly shot at Embassy car as unintended.


The US diplomat was attesting details about the ambush on diplomat vehicles in July, saying it came “very shortly after similar-looking vehicles that were driven by opposition forces” refused to slow down at a checkpoint in Juba, sparking gunfire between the two sides that killed five government troops.


He also said the informal checkpoint where U.S. diplomats came under fire was in a very dark area, and that the vehicles they were traveling had tinted windows, which might have made it hard for the troops to see that the passengers inside were American.


As for why the soldiers continued to shoot despite the fact that the license plates on the vehicles carried the country diplomat number 11 representing Americans were on board, Booth described the SPLA as “primarily illiterate army.  Booth said it should be taken into account that the army is “primarily illiterate.”


“Even for the brief time they stopped and tried to show identification, it was not at all clear if these soldiers would’ve been able to see it, or even understand the license plate,” he narrated. Under intense pressure from lawmakers both on the subcommittee and others who attended the hearing out of personal interest, Booth fielded more than an hour of intense questioning. He defended the U.S. emassy’s response to the attack on the expat compound and unleashed skepticism as to whether the South Sudanese soldiers who fired at the diplomats really could have understood they were American.


Lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle who were present at the hearing, repeatedly expressed frustration with the US administration for failing to implement an arms embargo.


And Booth said it has proven effective to threaten to enact the embargo as a tactic to gain leverage against the government and sway its behavior.


But Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said it’s time to stop worrying about leverage protect civilians on the ground through an embargo. “If we make too many idle threats that are not backed up by action then ultimately what happens is the threats become irrelevant,” Rooney said.


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President Kiir, Gen. Malong Not Responsible For July Clashes In Juba - SPLA

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By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The SPLA has refuted allegations that its Commander-in-Chief, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Chief of General Staff, Paul Malong Awan, had directed the fighting which dislodged former First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny from Juba in July.


Brigadier General, Lul Ruai Koang called an urgent press conference on Saturday to dismiss the confidential report issued by the United Nations implicating both Kiir and Malong in engineering the scuffle.  The report published on various international agencies has it that the fighting in Juba was engineered by the army chief who acted with orders from the commander in chief. 


The report argued that the use of Gunship helicopters in war can only be ordered by commander chief and the army chief. However, Gen. Ruai explained that president and the army chief did not order forces to take an offensive against the SPLA-IO but rather pinned blame on opposition soldiers for instigating the fighting.   He said the body guards of the former first vice president repeated the same scenario that escalated further violence in the city. He noted that the president immediately on Monday, July declared ceasefire and the army chief ordered all SPLA soldiers to return to their barracks which he said, was respected. Gen. Lul accused the UNMISS of targeting the SPLA forces in the recent fighting in Juba, arguing that army leadership noted deeply with satellite imagery as evidences of the UN peacekeeping forces hostilities against the SPLA.     


The secretive UN document according to reports indicated that government procured arms at the expenses of the dire economic situation in the country and therefore called for imposition of arms embargo.  This is yet the latest and serious accusation following the visit of the United Nations Security Council to Juba in a push for deployment of the regionally backed protection force in the young nation.

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FVP Promises Government Support To Public Universities

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BY Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The First Vice President Gen. Taban Deng Gai has stated that public Universities “should be well equipped” and that it was the responsibility of the government to support the five public academics institutions. Gen. Taban promised that the government would redouble its efforts to prioritize education particularly in the public universities.


 Gai was addressing the gathering on Saturday at Nyakuron Cultural Center in an occasion organized by National Youth Union to celebrate the formation of the TGNU and TNLA. He narrated that the government will improve public institutions and issues affecting students, and prioritize plan to enhance higher education.


On the peace agreement Gai reiterated his commitment to implementing the peace accord, explaining that new cantonment sites had been agreed upon by the parties, particularly “in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria regions respectively”.


Gai assured the gathering that new cantonments sites are meant for peace not like the previous ones established by the former first vice president Dr. Riek. He said those cantonment areas were previously meant by Riek for political reasons but not for peace.


He argued that the new sites will help to speedy the integration of the two armies and further affirmed his commitment and seriousness to integrate forces of SPLA-IO with SPLA next year.


He called upon the rebels in those regions to lay down their arms and join cantonment sites in pursuit of peace instead of hostile activities. He explained that the names and location of the cantonment areas would soon be disclosed as soon as the military commanders deliberate on it and finish with all the necessary arrangements.


The First Vice President also replaced some members of the SPLM-IO who were previously appointed by Dr. Riek Machar. According to the letter issued last week by the first vice president and addressed to Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) with Dr. Dhieu Mathok as the chairperson of IO members to the body and Ezikiel Lul Gatkuath as member and Richard K. Mulla as the chairperson of IO to the National Constitutional Amendment Commission and Lt Gen. Gatkuoth Gatkuoth as the chairperson of the IO to the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission among others.


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Transformation Of SSBC Falls Behind Schedule

By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

S

outh Sudan Television/Radio (SSTV/R) was according to media legislations, to transform to South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation SSBC, an establishment towards transforming the State owned Media into public broadcasters, independent from political or economic control of the government, but program has not been done safe for the name.


A nine-member board of directors, appointed by President Salva Kiir, has managed to effect the changes in the name, but got stuck in implementing the rest of the reforms set out in the SSBC Act.

Chairperson of the board, Professor William Haizaza cites lack of budget, organization structure for the SSBC and financial self-sustainability as the main challenges facing the corporation in discharging its duties.


“We the media are having a lot of problems is because we don’t have guidelines to back up our operations, to give the protection to the journalists and the absence of these codes,  conduct of business regulation is really harming the work, profession itself,” Haizaza told The Nation Mirror.


“We in the Broadcasting Corporation are supposed to enact our regulations for the Radio and TV and pass it  and give copy to the Media Authority, which then they will use it to check on us, because we are a government institution. So this is the task before us but it needs budget, it needs finance. It is not very easy.”


Currently, revenues generated by the SSBC are remitted directly into the accounts of the government leaving the corporation financially unsustainable, Haizaza said: “We have some good revenues when we do advertisements, and we have transmitters which are being rented by BBC, by VOA, by Radio France International, all they pay. All these we need to see how they are reflected in our budget.”


Legally, the Media Authority is a regulatory body for the transformation of government and state controlled television and radio into a public broadcasting corporation. Section 32 of the SSBC Act also gives the Media Authority the power to refer to court grounds it believes to be a breach by the Corporation of any obligation specified in the Act. The Authority has failed to deliver its mandate saying it lacks budget.


However, Haizaza said the board together with a new managing director is working out an organization structure for the corporation.


“…we succeeded to work the organization structure which is very important instrument for the transformation of the SSTV/R into SSBC as a public broadcaster… Up to now the organization’s structure is still under process because it is still to be submitted to the minister, to the Council of ministers and then to the parliament,” he said.


“…since SSTV/R was operating we didn’t see any organization structure so that means the people who are employed here, they are randomly employed and their job descriptions, job specifications are not incorporated into the Act and into the structure. So you cannot evaluate the performance very quickly. But now, this is an important instrument of transformation and it is being worked on.”

The SSBC Act President Kiir signed into law gives the Corporation an overall mandate to provide range of programming for the whole Country that “informs, enlightens, entertains and serves the people of South Sudan, taking into account their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities.”

The Act says for five years from its commencement, the government shall continue to provide funding to the corporation.


Haizaza said the roadmap has been established to transfer the Institution from the ministry of information and broadcasting into public broadcaster.


He said the corporation shall work in close cooperation with the ministry of information, in terms of finance and policy framework.


“….but in terms of administration we were supposed to do a number of things in the first one year interim period, which started in February this year,” Haizaza said.   “So when we assumed our task, we started with changing the logo from SSTV/R to SSBC. Our concept for change is symbol. Both radio and TV has a common denominator which is to raise the voice of the people and their aspirations to the government and to take the programs and policies of the government to the people through the mic.” Haizaza said.


Balancing News and Editorial Integrity

The Act requires the Corporation to align its activities with the democratic values enshrined in the national Constitution and to enhance and protect fundamental freedoms and human rights.


Section 7 subsection 3 of the Act enshrines:“The Broadcasting Corporation shall strife, among others, to provide a service that:

(a) is independent from political or economic control by the government and reflects editorial integrity;

(b) Includes comprehensive, impartial and balanced news and current affairs programming during prime time, covering South Sudan and international events of general public interest.…

(l) Contributes to informed debate and critical thought...” 

However, Haizaza recognizes lack of fair and professional coverage by the SSBC. 

The board’s chairman says he has directed the managing director to accord equal airtime to all South Sudanese irrespective of political affiliations.   

“Our program now is geared towards peace... to welcome our brothers (opposition) and to treat them equally and to have their programs aired out as much as all other programs are being aired… these are the transformation which are taking place” Haizaza said.

“As a government institution, we must give equal platform to all political parties and people, in order to harmonize… because if you segregate you will set fire. So this is some of the transformation we expect to do...”

However, Member of Parliament leading Democratic Change party in the transitional assembly Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec insists that the opposition views are not given fair opportunity. 

He says “if you see me there… it is something which has been organized by other people, not by us [opposition].”

“The TV is still being controlled by the government, even the radio and especially by the minister of information. So it has become property of some people not the South Sudanese people,” Adigo told The Nation Mirror.

“There is a need to look into the other side of the coin. Not all the time you are looking on one side. Views should be reflected so that people think which is the best way to go,” he stressed.

A Juba based Civil Society activist agrees that the SSBC is still not independent from control of the government.

Wodcan Savior Lazarus of Support Peace Initiative Development Organization SPIDO argues that an issue of balancing of news stories does not need a budget.

“The independence of the SSBC is not evidenced…some of these stories on South Sudan Television and Radio are not being balanced. In most cases the stories are one sided favoring the interest of the government. This is one area the Corporation needs to improve on… the law is there but the implementation is really poor,” Savior who commended the government for enacting the law told The Nation Mirror.

“The budget would have not been one of the major excuses because some of these things they would have even done it without the budget.” 

The activist urges the government to allocate budget to the Corporation and also raise awareness on the stipulations of the SSBC Act.

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Gen. Taban Deng Gai Orders Armed Groups In Equatoria To Join Cantonment Sites

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By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The First vice president Taban Deng Gai on Saturday has ordered armed groups operating in greater Equatoria region to lay down their arms and join cantonment sites to enhance speedy implementation of peace pact.

 

FVP Gai remarks came while addressing youth gathering organized by national youth union to celebrate the formation of unity government, transitional parliament over the weekend at Nyakuron Cultural Center.  


“The new sites will help to speedy the integration of the two armies and we are committed to integrate our SPLA-IO forces to form one army come May 2017,” Gen. Gai told the youth gathering. Last Month President Salva Kiir ordered integration of Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) and equally directed SPLA joint Military high command to allow the establishment of cantonment areas as a way to pave smooth implementation of shaky peace agreement, inked year ago.


“These new cantonments sites are meant for peace not like the previous ones established by former first vice president Dr. Riek Machar based on his political reasons,” he stressed. Gai reiterated his commitment to implement peace accord, adding that the cantonment areas agreed upon by the parties in Equatoria region will promote peace in the country. Political analysts say the previous controversial stall talks between then FVP Riek Machar and president Kiir groups culminated into the July fighting that now shakes peace accord. Former rebel chief negotiator turned FVP, called upon rebels in the foresaid regions to lay down their arms and join cantonment sites in pursuit  for peace and denounce hostile activities in the area.  He further underscored that the names and location of the cantonment areas would soon be disclosed as soon as the military commanders deliberated on it and come up with practical necessary arrangements.  


However, clashes along routes connecting Juba to Yei and Juba to Nimule raised eyebrows on what holds in the basket for the young nation.


Since then the key roads linking the country into neighboring East Africa countries have witnessed heinous targeted killing of civilians along the highways, which includes the recent setting ablaze of five oil tankers along Juba-Nimule road.

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TNLA Rejects Payment For 19 Months Salary Of Reinstated MPs

By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The transitional national legislative assembly has rejected the demand by Members of Parliament who were reinstated recently to be paid 19 months salaries.


Around 27 MPs lost their seats after the outbreak of the violence following the December 2013 bloodletting war that claimed lives and materials in the country. Some of them were dismissed for absenteeism; others for allegedly joining the armed opposition, but then, they were reinstated this year in accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement.


After their reinstatement, the lawmakers petitioned the Legislature leadership, claiming unspecified amount of money. However, the leadership of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly has dismissed the payment request by the MPS, arguing the peace agreement does not stipulate it. The assembly made the position on Friday following the sitting to discuss on the matter.


According to the chairperson of the information committee in the assembly, Oliver Morri Benjamin, “There is no article in this agreement which gives any legitimacy to claim for the period of their absence,” “These very members who are asking for the 19-month salaries to be paid to them were not even considered as members by then until when they were brought back to their seats.”


Some members of parliament, particularly the Former Detainees, argued that they were moved to Nairobi by the Kenyan government and it was not their making to move out from the country but it was due to request by the Kenyan authority However, Morri stressed that the decision reached by the August house is the last and binding and no further claim on the matter. The amount of money claimed by the MPs was not revealed but was just rejected based on the agreement, he said.

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Peace Can’t Be Achieved Without Political Will, Member Of Parliament Says

Hon Peter Longole Kuam Chairperson of Peace and Reconciliation in national Assembly


By Aleer P. David

 

The Committee for Peace and Reconciliation in the Assembly has observed that peace cannot be fully achieved without full cooperation of the concerned parties to the peace deal.


In an exclusive interview with the Nation Mirror yesterday, the Chairperson of the Committee in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly [TNLA], Peter Longole Kuam said the international community alone cannot bring lasting peace without political will from South Sudanese political leaders.


“The United Nations Security Council and the international are not enough to bring peace to this country without commitment from the people of South Sudan, without commitment from the government of South Sudan” Longole said. Longole said the leaders are the brain behind the people who are carrying guns and killing people on the roads and everywhere and if they are not ready for peace, the 4000 regional troops may not achieve the desired goals.


He encouraged the leaders to unite, embrace peace without reservations and persuade those who are fighting in their names to put down guns such that reconciliation becomes effective.

The SPLM/A IO whose former chairperson signed the peace agreement with the president  is divided into two camps; Some are still loyal to the former chairman ,Riek Machar and a big portion is loyal to the current chairman who is the first vice president ,Taban Deng. The former political detainees whose former Secretary of SPLM, Pagan Amum signed on their behalf and were awarded two ministerial positions are also divided.Kuam said his committee has found it hard to champion sustainable peace and reconcile the people and communities in South Sudan due to presence of too many guns in the hands of people who are not credited to have guns. He suggested prompt disarmament an important tool to establish lasting peace.


“These people who are holding guns were armed by us. Since we need peace we should design a way to disarm them peacefully”, Peter said. He appealed to the people of South Sudan including their leaders to forgive them and work hard to restore peace.

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UAE Promises Humanitarian Support, Foreign Affairs Minister Says

By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The United Arab Emirate has pledged to support South Sudan to avert the humanitarian crisis the country is experiencing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Alor Kuol has said. Alor just arrived to the country from UAE where he led a high level government delegation to solicit for support.  


Speaking to the press shortly after arrival at Juba International Airport during the weekend, the minister lauded the UAE for the commitment to supporting the young nation.  Alor visit came upon invitation from the UAE ministry of foreign affairs.


“We discussed with UAE government and the meeting was fruitful and they promised to support South Sudan on humanitarian needs” Alor said.


The Foreign Minister said while there, he discussed bilateral relations with the UAE and that the discussion was successful and very soon the UAE would bring in its support for humanitarian needs. “We have just returned from the UAE following an invitation of minister of foreign affairs of UAE. We thanked them for the invitation and we hope the two countries will continue to cooperate” he noted. South Sudan is experiencing numerous challenges ranging from conflict, economic deterioration, humanitarian catastrophe, to mention but a few. Many have attributed the downturn in the economic sector to the protracted civil war that never ceased even after the parties inked the infamous Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).


Any support from friends could help the country uplift the spirit of her stressed citizens.

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SSBC Seeks To Boost Broadcasts

By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

The South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation is seeking to boost its radio and television broadcasts in the Country.


Chairperson of the SSBC board of directors Professor William Haizaza said an additional transmitter for boosting the radio broadcast has been requested from the government.


“And we suggested to the Minister of Finance [David Deng Athorbei] that if we have a transmitter in Yirol, which could network with the Gumbo station, we could have broadcast [radio] all over South Sudan. And this is very easy to be done.  


It needs not much money, which the government can afford but that’s up to now we are still in the process of following those request,” Haizaza said. “If we cannot improve these infrastructures then we cannot reach the general public, adequately. 

Until now SSBC is not broadcasting countrywide. We were prioritizing on the radio because it is the easiest channel which can be empowered to reach the people. For TV to reach the people it is expensive exercise.”


The SSBC has an overall mandate to provide range of programing for the whole Country that “informs, enlightens, entertains and serves the people of South Sudan, taking into account their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities.” Haizaza however added that the currently SSBC (TV) is analogue terrestrial transmission which can only reach the town of Lainya, effectively and with precision.


Transforming the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation SSBC from analogue to digital is another challenge, he says. Haizaza said in order for the SSBC to catch up with the rest of the world the challenge of digital migration requires government’s intervention.


“We were hoping that our budget [for financial year 2016/17] should bring in these provisions to answer these questions. But now of course with the situation in which we are, currently the oil is not flowing, it is the only source of revenue... we cannot say now we must have this because that is not realistic,” he said. “And so we are dialoguing with the Minister of information, telecommunications, technology and postal services to connect us with the Minister of finance and to the office of the president so that our problems can be addressed with immediate effect.”


 

SSBC and Peace Agreement

The Agreement on the Resolution on the Conflict in South Sudan ARCSS has provided for reforms and reconstitutions of the SSBC. “….the Executive shall supervise and facilitate the reforms and reconstitutions…paying particular attention to the mandate and appointments, to ensure their independence and accountability,” enshrines Chapter 1 Article 14 sub article 1 of the ARCSS. Earlier, in their submission for consideration during the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan, Human Rights Organization, Article 19 wrote: “We are concerned that the process for appointing and dismissing members of the Board of Directors of SSBC lies with the executive branch, which allows for inappropriate influence over the SSBC by the government. A strong guarantee of independence from the executive branch is one of the key pillars of a democratic public broadcasting law. With this pillar now take away; it is very questionable whether the SSBC will be able to truly deliver on its otherwise well-defined mandate to serve the public rather than the government.” But chairperson Haizaza argues that the South Sudan media laws are just frameworks which will be amended gradually.


“The present three Acts [Media Laws] are just framework. Honestly, they are just framework… as we go along, then we will begin to amend, even the US constitution has been amended now and then. 

So there is no law which is static... the framework gives you the opportunity to start to build the house, the foundation,” he said. The chairperson also defended the membership of a national security officer in the board.


Haziza argued that as a civilian he will not be able to secure a release of SSBC’s journalist in case of an arrest by the security.


“But he [the national security] being in the board, we can discuss the issue, we give him the mandate to go and solve the problem. That is why the presence of the national security is important and critical in solving problem. 


Because we know that our reporters are not well trained and there are bound to be errors in the process...” said the SSBC’s boss.


However, a civil society activist Wodcan Saviour Lazarus disagrees, insisting that involving a security officer as a member compromises the mandate of the board.  


“When we involve the national security, to be also among the corporation, then we compromise with the work of the corporation… this is going beyond what the Act actually stipulated,” Saviour told The Nation Mirror.

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Potholes, Over Speeding Blamed For Nimule Road Traffic Accident

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By Chuty Anyar

 

The fatal road accident along Juba-Nimule highway that killed 10 people and wounded 37 others at Pageri, was caused as buses tried to dodge potholes amid over speeding for fear of carjackers, police say.


The accident on Wednesday involved two transport buses of GateWay Company, where all the reported fatalities were traders of different nationalities and among the injured were 23 South Sudanese. According to deputy police spokesman Colonel Dominic Kuacijok in an exclusive interview with The Nation Mirror the incident occurred on Wednesday morning when two buses belonging Gateway Company rammed each other at Pageri vicinity, all coming from different directions.


He said one of the buses was coming from Kampala while the other from Juba, all were driving at constant speed and that resulted into collision.


“It was a heavy collision which has left 37 people sustained injures and killed 8 people including both two drivers of the buses instantly,” Kuacijok said. He explained that the cause of the accident was deemed to be narrowness of the road and over speeding due to the fear of carjacking by bandits along the highway, following the July fighting.


He revealed that the damage of the tarmac also contributed much to the collision since there are several bump’s and hole’s created in the middle of the highway.


“The cause of the accident was because of the hole which is on the middle of the road   where two buses crash trying to dodged hole but unfortunately the collided on the process skipping the hole.   Also, over speeding was another cause of the incident,” he explained. the injured victims were referred to Nimule hospital for urgent treatment but the police officer appealed to the government to rehabilitate the worn-off parts of the road to reduce more road accident on the only country highway and provide safety to the passengers.  However, it is not the first time for accident to occur along Juba-Nimule highway since it was construction few years back.   


Earlier last year Bakulu Bus Company and Friendship Coaches, got accident nearly killing dozens of people and wounding several others.

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