Africa-Press – South-Sudan. Environment and Forestry Minister, Josephine Napwon, now wants the political class to wait until the government completes conducting environmental social impact assessments on the controversial dredging of Naam River and digging of Jonglei Canal before making public statements.
Napwon, who was speaking in Juba during commemoration of World Environment Day (WED), said the government was yet to conduct other hydrological studies, and remarks by politicians on the sticky issue are likely to raise tempers and threaten stability of the country.
“The position of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is clear; no dredging will be permitted without the conduct of an environmental, social impact assessments and other hydrological studies reviewed and approved by the ministry of environment. Besides, this issue must not be politicized because it is purely science and research that will inform our decision,” she said.
Her comments come hot in the heels of the ongoing contentious dispute between the general public and government representatives regarding the dredging of the river Naam in Bahr El Ghazal and the restarting of the Jonglei canal construction.
Napwon said the arrival of equipment in Unity State from Egypt for use in dredging of the Naam and Bahr el Ghazal rivers is causing great anxiety citizens.
Since flooding was the cause of the current development, she said her ministry has developed mitigation and adoption strategies that do not include dredging or restarting the Jonglei Canal.
“I urged all our political leaders not to issue statements that only raise tempers and cause instability”
“On the Jonglei Canal, the ministry conducted a rapid assessment of the Sudd wetlands and the findings and conclusion of the assessments is clear. The Sudd wetland is to be left as is,” Napwon said.
Dr. Albino Bol, the Minister of Youth and Sports said the youth are on standby, waiting for the next course of action they may be required to take with regards to the dredging of Naam Rivers and the controversial construction of the Jonglei canal.
“Before doing any project, any mega project on top of dredging of the Nile, the issue of the Jonglei Canal, environmental aspects and social impact must be carried out before we do that, because if we make a political decision before the research is being done, then we might commit a mistake,” he said.
She said if the government does not use experts in ecology and environment and does not give an early warning system, then it would be difficult dredging and resume construction of Jonglei Canal.
“I propose that the Jonglei Canal project should not commence immediately. I want the Jonglei canal water to go to the Upper Nile and circulate around up to the areas of Lou Nure where there is no water, including the dry areas of Gadiang, before we give water to the people downstream,” he said.
The agreement of the Nile basin stipulates that every country where the Nile River passes has the right to use the Nile water for its development.