Though the face of Juba has begun to change, with zinc houses slowly replacing grass ones, paving the streets of Juba has come to standstill, and the red dusty roads, still lined mainly with grass houses, are bumpy and filled with holes.
The paving came to a halt because the foreign company contracted for the project was an imaginary company without capacity and adequate equipment to execute the project, as visitors to the town are told.
Allegedly the company secured its contract in advance even prior to the commencement of the work, simply because some government officials were involved in the deal. Besides, there were no South Sudanese engineers to supervise the construction work, no commitment to project lead time, and no one investigated what happened with the allocated funds.
Although Juba is supposedly the seat of the government of Southern Sudan, the unpaved streets have lots of deep holes and are bumpy, and while driving within Juba, passengers even in very luxurious and expensive vehicles and land cruisers dance and bump all the time. And due to the great number of vehicles, Juba has become a dusty town; it is impossible to imagine that one is walking in the sphere of the seat of South Sudan Government.
It is incredible that the GoSS President takes these very same bumpy streets to get to St Thereza Cathedral at Kator, where he usually prays. When I landed in Juba, I went around Kator, Malakia, Atalabara, Konyokonyo and Juba bridge to find out what kind of streets our President is using to go to church. I found, to my dismay, they were the same bumpy streets with deep and large holes. At this juncture, I asked my driver as to whether our President actually feels, dances and bangs as we do now while driving every Sunday for prayers to Kator?
Another issue in Juba is the petrol stations, which have been permitted to be built like shops close to each other. Petrol stations are a profitable business in Juba and South Sudan, simply because the south is a free market and GoSS has no hand in fixing fuel prices in south. There is no unified fuel price and the owners themselves choose the prices. At Imatong station, gasoline is sold at SDG 3.00/litre (USD 1.40), at Hass it is sold at SDG 3.50/litre (USD 1.60), and in Lui it is SDG 5.00/litre (USD 2.30), while in Mundri the price is lower.
In the past, Ugandans used to import oil and then sell it in South at a more expensive price, particularly during Kenyaصs election crisis, which raised fuel prices in Juba. Now the traders are bringing fuel from Khartoum, which serves to reduce fuel prices in the South.
Most of Sudanصs oil is extracted in South Sudan, which receives only part of the revenues. According to the UN Secretary-Generalصs most recent report on Sudan, arrears on oil revenues to the Government of Southern Sudan rose to $286.83 million by the end of November .2008
The funds are supposed to be for the development of infrastructure and services in South Sudan, but people in South Sudan and Juba lack basic services. Hospitals are in bad shape and without medicines and dues of nurses and civil servants are not paid for several months at a time, particularly for servicemen and women. Juba has changed a lot in terms of expansion beyond Jebel Kujuru, Munuki and Gudule, but the old schools such as Juba One Girls and Boys Primary schools for instance remain in miserable shape and are hardly recognisable as schools, to mention only a few. No one knows whose responsibility it is to renovate these schools.
Many Jubans in the civil service complain about the failure to issue their salaries. Most registered companies in Juba have no offices, only mobile ones and yet some acquire government tenders for supplies after which they deliver poor services. In most cases the contractor ends up without fulfilling the assigned deal because the money is being released to the contracted company in advance.