Hentet fra Eye Radio 20.5.2022
PHOTO: Left to Right – Ambassador Naohiro Tsutsumi, the Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan, President Salva Kiir, and Raila Amollo Odinga, the African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, cutting the inauguration ribbon of Freedom Bridge – Credit| Lou Nelson/Eye Radio | May 19, 2022
President Salva Kiir has said the Freedom bridge will stand as a symbol of true friendship with the people of Japan.
The President has officially opened the lifeline Freedom Bridge in Juba Thursday morning.
The bridge, believed will ease traffic in Juba city, was handed over to the government by the Japan International Cooperation Agency this morning.
Thousands of Juba residents turned up for the commissioning of the bridge.
In attendance were; the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Macha and Four Vice Presidents, among other senior government officials.
The African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, and Kenyan presidential candidate, Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga, witnessed the event.
Speaking during the opening of the Freedom Bridge, President Kiir says the bridge is a symbol of friendship with people of Japanese.
“I would like to thank the government and the people of Japan for this important gift for the people of South Sudan. This bridge will stand as the lastly evidence of our true friendship with the Japanese people and their government,” Kiir said.
“Your excellency, the ambassador of Japan, your country is one of the few countries that do not attach conditions to it. We appreciate this development support,
For his part, the African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Amollo Odinga says the Freedom bridge will resolve the transport disruption and trade interruption to South Sudanese people and the people of East Africa.
Odinga, who is also one of Kenyan presidential candidates, his role at African Union is to guide the vision, policies, strategies and a programme for the development of priority regional and continental infrastructure in transport, energy, trans-boundary water and ICT.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan, Ambassador Naohiro Tsutsumi asked South Sudanese to protect the bridge.
“Dear South Sudanese Friends, now the Freedom Bridge is in your hands. Please take good care of it. It will work hard for you. It is laying itself down for you like a bridge over the troubled water. This bride is the simple out of our true friendship,” Japanese Ambassador said.
This bridge will be the major link in South Sudan with a total length of 560m, a width of 12.9m, access roads on both sides making a total of 3700m, and a sidewalk.
The project was conceived before the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
The construction of the bridge started in 2013.
However, the outbreak of conflict that same year prevented its progress.
In March 2015 President Kiir launched the construction and Japan International Cooperation Agency inaugurated the 3.6-kilometer-long bridge which cost approximately 91 million US dollars.
However, when renewed conflict erupted in 2016, Japanese aid workers were evacuated from South Sudan and suspended the construction of the Freedom Bridge.
In 2019, after resumption of the construction, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese engineers working on the bridge were again evacuated, putting another halt to the construction.
The initial estimated cost of the construction was $91 million but in 2019, the government of Japan pledged an additional $28 million for the completion of the bridge
The bridge will open for citizens of South Sudan and the East African Community a wealth of new possibilities and for a future marked by increased connectivity.