Manawa, Josephine summoned over plans to clear Nile River waterways

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly has summoned two national ministers over plans to clear waterways along the Nile River.

This is following the arrival of river cleaning machines from Egypt.

In March this year, the Ministry of Water Resource and Irrigation received four river cleansing machines from the Egyptian government.

The four batches were provided for opening up water passage in Bahr el Ghazal basin and Naam River in Unity State.

But the Specialized Committee for Environment and Forestry at the national parliament says there exist fears that the deal with Egypt may revive the Jonglei Canal Project.

The Jonglei Canal was designed to bypass the Sudd and route water lost from the Nile River by spill and evaporation in the swamps so as to deliver more water downstream to Sudan and Egypt.

However, in 1983, the work was suspended as a result of the Sudanese civil war that destroyed the excavator machine.

Members of Parliament on Friday grilled the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, and the Minister of Environment over the river cleaning system.

Ministers, Manawa Peter Gatkuoth and Josephine Napwone were called to explain what the project entails.

The Chairperson of the committee Helen Nydowk spoke on the state-owned radio, SSBC on Thursday that her committee was concerned about plans to clear waterway along Nile River as well as alleged resumption of Jonglei canal.

“We summoned the minister to answer some questions concerning the arrival of some digging machines from Egypt to clear waterways in some of the rivers within South Sudan and the resumption construction of the Jonglei Canal,” said Nydowk.

“As an oversight body, it was a concern to us because it’s an issue that concerns the life of the South Sudanese in general and we thought that it would be important to summon the Minister.”

Gattiek Wichar, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation made the following clarifications when he spoke to Eye Radio this morning:

“As we speak right now, what we are focusing on, and discussing is the Unity State River that is called River Naam and Bahr El Ghazal basin,” Wichar told Eye Radio.

“We have not yet come to the issue of the Jonglei Canal and I would not put any comment on that. So the issue to do with the Jonglei Canal is not yet on our table.”

In 2018, South Sudan and Egypt signed an agreement to clean up the Nile River to facilitate the steady flow of the water.

The project to remove dead aquatic plants from the waterways is aimed at mitigating flash floods that have submerged most of the northern parts of the country for the last four years.

Egypt is also seeking to satisfy its desperate need for freshwater after the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

However, environmentalists and members of the public have raised concerns that clearing the Nile would have a devastating impact on the ecosystem in the wetland.

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