The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

New port in South Sudan will enhance delivery of humanitarian aid to the country

The Government of Japan and South Sudan’s Ministry of Transportation, Roads and Bridges jointly inaugurated on 28 April a river port in Mingkaman.

The $4.1 million port facility, funded by the people of Japan and implemented by UNOPS, will provide life-saving supplies to South Sudan’s civilian population, particularly those affected by displacement following the 2013 conflict.

Mingkaman is one of the largest spontaneous settlement sites in the country, with more than 100,000 registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) having arrived here from neighbouring regions.

Despite continued efforts to improve living conditions for IDPs, humanitarian access to affected areas has been hampered by a lack of robust surface transportation systems, especially during the rainy season. As a result, IDPs have faced severe food shortages and an increased risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases. In response to the humanitarian situation, Japan and UNOPS collaborated to install drainage systems inside the settlement sites to improve hygiene and sanitation conditions to mitigate the risk of waterborne diseases.  

The new port on the White Nile provides off-loading facilities and storage spaces, enabling humanitarian organizations to efficiently transport food and nutrition supplies to affected communities, which currently rely on expensive air operations.

A family arrives in Mingkaman by boat, prior to the port’s construction. “We are grateful to the people of Japan for their generosity,” said the Honourable Kwong Danhier Gatluak, former Minister of Transportation, Roads and Bridges, during the opening ceremony of the port.
On the banks of the White Nile in Mingkaman. © UNOPS/John Rae

Given the high cost and lengthy process of building and maintaining roads in South Sudan, the use of natural rivers is a practical solution for infrastructural bottlenecks to revitalize the movement of people and goods. Further, river transportation will induce development in other sectors such as agriculture and trade, contributing to mid- to long-term livelihoods and economic growth for the world’s youngest nation.

To commemorate the opening of the port facility, the Mingkaman community hosted a ceremony in the presence of: the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Masahiko Kiya; the Minister of Transportation, Roads and Bridges, the Honourable Kwong Danhier Gatluak; Chairperson of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, Professor Lukulenge Lole; and UNOPS Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Paul Cruickshank.

In his remarks, the Honourable Kwong said: "I congratulate the people of South Sudan, especially the people of Eastern Lakes, for the inauguration of Mingkaman River Port. To me, this is one of the first modern river ports we have in South Sudan […] We are grateful to the people of Japan for their generosity."

Ambassador Masahiko said: “The inauguration of Mingkaman river port is an embodiment of Japan’s answers to South Sudan’s various needs, covering humanitarian relief for the displaced while installing basic infrastructure upon which the country’s future will be built by the locals. As the momentum for peace gains steam, Japan hopes that the port serves as a key driver for economic vibrancy in South Sudan.”

Mr. Cruickshank said: “We value our partnership with the people of Japan and South Sudan. We hope that the new port will unlock the constraint of connectivity within the country and expand opportunities for effective delivery of humanitarian services to those people who need them the most.”

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