Yambio Western Equitoria State
Jungle Rock, Gangura near the DRC border
Yambio, on the border with the DRC, is a green world, of forests that stretch as far as you can imagine. We flew low over a sea of trees, intersected by rivers of pale green grass. A vast area without a person in site. Occasionally, a snake of brown is visible through the green, indicating a road, but for the most part it is mile after mile of green. The town itself is a nondescript collection of buildings on either side of trashed red dirt road.
Our landing was bumpy with the approaching storm, which broke soon after we arrived. The Minister was waiting and we rushed to go through the protocol stuff. MoU is signed!
The UNICEF compound where I’m staying, is built around an old colonial house that looks as if its constantly at war with the elements trying to swallow it. Big trees, the evening sounds of the tropics (with the generator of course), internet and even a warm shower. Not so sure about beans for dinner.
Gangura, is a village on the road we are rehabilitating to the DRC border at Nabiapai. A ride that does everything possible to dislodge your brain from inside your skull, brings you to the start of our work. The narrow track trough the 4m high vegetation, opens into what seems a freeway.
The opening ceremony differed from others I have been part of in that the singing was done by a youth group from the area. South Sudan rap in the jungle, with three gyrating dancers that certainly had the crowd awake. Don’t think the Bishop was impressed. While most of the speeches were predictable, the speech by the Chief to the ancestors was fascinating. As graves needed to be moved for the widening of the road he asked for their understanding by highlighting the benefits of the road for the development and security of the people.
The Chief Whip arrived in a pile of technical cruisers and serious men to claim his spot in front of the people. His blatant hijacking of the event as a political platform, claiming the development was a result of the hard work by the SPLM was humoureous and entertaining.
Lots of talk on the impact from the LRA activity in the area, which has displaced large sections of the population. Many are returning, with the road a key security link. Already there are numerous SPLA camps along the route to enhance security.
Our roads are indeed opening the area for logging, which at this stage is on a small scale. When you see the extent of the forests you wonder how it could ever be of concern, but of course we know that it doesn’t take long before the serious guys move in and cause major damage. Still something for the government to control. I did bring it into my speech as well in our debrief to the Ministers.
Back in Yambio after a long day in the field. Lots of small issues to address and major concerns about how we will work through the rain season. It rained this afternoon, turning the roads into skating rinks. If I’m exhausted, I would hate to know how the drivers feel from the concentration, wrestling the vehicles over these nightmare surfaces.
The forests are beautiful, although I imagine you could quickly get ‘green’ illness, from the layer, upon layer of green. No monkeys, elephants, or birds. They do have an abundance of incredible butterflies. In almost every size and colour moving almost too quickly to identify.
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April 23, 2014