The bridge linking Joppa to major markets, health centres and schools in the South Sudanese capital Juba, is a lifeline for the local community. But damage caused by heavy flooding during the rainy season had left residents stranded, making it difficult for them to get to work and school, or to buy goods and services.
It has now been repaired as part of the Quick Impact Project programme operated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
At the official handover, Joppa residents expressed their delight. “I had to miss classes during heavy downpours, so I nearly abandoned my studies,” said student Henry Jada, who hopes to become a doctor. “I am now really pleased as I am assured of regular attendance at school and of achieving my academic goal with ease.”
Sixty-year-old Elizabeth Seeid said the community has suffered terribly as a result of flooding from the overflowing Joppa stream with all activities in the area coming to a halt. Houses were washed away and properties buried in sand and mud.
“We have been praying for God to touch goodhearted people like UNMISS to help us, and now our prayers have been heard,” she said. “As you can see, I am so happy I have almost gone mute!”
The repair of the bridge will also assist humanitarian access to communities in need and help people connect for reconciliation and peace-building activities.
“This project is part of our priority interventions that contribute tangibly towards our two key tasks of protecting civilians and building durable peace in South Sudan,” said the Head of UNMISS’ Juba Field Officer, Geetha Pious.
The project was implemented by the Nile Sustainable Development Organization. Director Repent Taban said the bridge would now be able to handle between 25 and 30 tonnages of truckloads across it. The project had also enabled him to provide training to eight community members who can now help to monitor and maintain the bridge.
“I have no doubt the bridge will facilitate inter-community mobility, improve ease of patrolling by local security operatives, foster ease of emergency response especially for mothers in labour and enhance socio-economic development in the area,” said Francis Swaka Rubano, Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Rural Water in the Jubek area.