SOUTHERN SUDAN’S CAPITAL JUBA PREPARES FOR JULY 9th INDEPENDENCE
BY Paul Ndiho
JUNE 30, 2011
On July 9, Juba will become the capital city of the world’s newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan. Residents of Juba, fondly known by locals as the world’s largest village, are working improve their city as South Sudan’s Independence Day draws near.
Ravaged by 22 years of civil war with the north that ended with the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, Juba has seen little development.
Nevertheless, since the peace deal, the city has been growing rapidly but analysts say it has expanded without planning.
Many southern Sudanese say Juba is not fit to be the capital. Some have gone as far as to suggest building an entirely new capital elsewhere. Now a cleaning and beautification surge is underway in Juba.
“Surely, Juba is changing for the better because, as you move around, you can see how people are feeling free and how people are enjoying being a citizen of this area.”
Locals and officials want a city worthy of their new nation, and to proudly welcome visiting heads of state and dignitaries to Juba in July.
Juba’s cleanup started six weeks ago and government officials say the process will continue after Independence.
“I think it’s not only geared towards independence but setting up a system that will continue. I think that is the most important.”
The city cleaning is carried out mostly by volunteers who are paid $7 dollars a day.
The project’s main goals are to clean the streets of rubbish and dust, plant trees and paint the roads, demolish structures, install solar street lamps and set up a sustainable system of keeping Juba clean.
The landmark John Garang memorial site is also undergoing a facelift as it will be the focus of independence celebrations.
But authorities say they are hard pressed to have the renovations ready for Independence Day, now just weeks away. Jokmadut Jok is an Undersecretary at the Ministry of culture.
“The narrow timeframe and the urgency of the situation, some companies have hired hundreds of people so that they can accomplish the work in the course of a few weeks. We began this process about six weeks ago.”
A South Sudan government official says millions of dollars have been dedicated for Juba’s cleaning. But authorities also say that once the July 9 Independence Day celebrations are over; the real work of building the new country begins.