JUBA, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Senior South Sudanese officials hailed the impact of the 392 km road being built by China's Shandong Hi-Speed Co. Ltd (SDHS) on people's livelihoods as the youngest nation moves to transition from years of conflict.
"I am very happy because of this road, the last time I came here in January but today it is very different and with the roundabout," said Sarah Nene Redento, deputy governor of Central Equatoria State while inspecting the completed 63 kilometers of the road in Terekeka, east of the capital Juba on Thursday.
"I can see the real peace in the country, and I can see the development, and I can see along the road there are people cultivating sorghum, so this road means a lot for us as the host of this nature," she added.
Nene noted that the several striking developments seen along the Juba-Terekeka-Rumbek road are a sign of peace and economic recovery after years of conflict since December 2013.
Schools, health centers, and businesses have mushroomed along the 63-km Juba-Terekeka stretch. This stretch was once swampy and difficult to navigate due to huge potholes since the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
The road is designed to link Central Equatoria State which hosts Juba, the capital of South Sudan, with six other states across the vast east African country. SDHS has already completed the tarmacking of the stretch and is now working on the Awerial-Rumbek stretch.
Simon Mijok Mijak, the Minister for Roads and Bridges, said they remain committed to supporting SDHS to complete the remaining 216 km section of the road to Rumbek town of Lakes state.
Mijak noted that apart from delays in payment to SDHS, persistent insecurity along the road has somehow disrupted work on the road.
The key road is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013. Mijak addressed that BRI aims to promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, establish and strengthen partnerships among the countries along the Belt and Road, and realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries.
He hailed the high standard and quality of this road, describing it as the first modern highway in the country. Prior to its construction, it used to take motorists nearly five hours to reach the fishing town of Terekeka. Now it takes 40 minutes to drive from Juba to Terekeka. ■