Sunday, September 26, 2010

new nation , old problem

We read that Juba is a city poised to become the capital of the newly independent nation of South Sudan after a referendum in January. It is a city of at least a million people although it may be closer to two million. No one knows. But it will be a national capital like no other. One without a power grid, sewage system, garbage collection, water, gas or phone lines. There are only 17 kilometres of paved road in Juba. Most of the city's residents live in shacks made of sticks, mud and thatch on potholed streets that have no name. Much of the food is imported from Kenya and Uganda. It is not so much a city as a giant refugee camp.

Much of the tension between north and south Sudan hinges on the oil fields, mainly located in the south. But there is little evidence of oil money in Juba. Behind high walls there are a few mansions built for the governor and senior ministers. There are hundreds of UN officials in the city but they also live in relative isolation in gated compounds.

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