By Dak Miabek

As the country embarks on the battle against COVID-19, the citizens of Ruweng just like many nationals in South Sudan are eagerly waiting for the Presidential Decrees appointing the governors and Chiefs Administrators for the States and three Administrative Areas respectively.

For Ruweng, the appointment of the Chief Administrator is not as exciting as it might be for other States and Administrative Areas. Little is expected in the hopes of service delivery. In relation to COVID-19, the need for adequate safe water is urgent. Water is a major component in ensuring the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

In Ruweng, facts on the ground have it that the existing Acting Authority under the Secretary-General Hon. Ngor Chuang is numb and cold as ice. In real essence, there is no government in place. There are no Administrative Officials the locals can resort to in the quest for any sort of dire needs such as water. For many centuries, people in this corner of the globe have relied on unsafe water to quench their thirst.
Today, even unsafe water isn’t available. All the holes have dried up since the fall of the dry season. The few boreholes that were donated by good Samaritans have broken down. International Aids Service and Samaritan Purse have for years continued to provide a few boreholes in their capacity to ensure that clean water is availed.

These selfless Organizations have gone the extra mile to train Community Members and empower the Administrative Water Teams with Capacity building and equipment for easy repair of water facilities. However, the personnel trained and equipment donated by the said actors have been commercialized. Poor residents have been harshly taxed whenever the Community wants the Water Committee to repair their boreholes. There are reports by the locals that they do not trust the Community Water Committee anymore.

The water committee headed by technician Mr. Sally Biu is no longer supportive. There are allegations that the committee normally demands lots of unaffordable money from poor residents in exchange for their service. According to one old resident Eastern Ruweng, the Committee has turned itself into a Plumbing company.

The community and Sally Biu’s Water Company have to first negotiate the repair bills before any hands are put on damaged boreholes. With the scorching economic situation, most settlements do not afford to pay Water Committees to see their boreholes fixed.

As per now, over 90% of boreholes drilled in Pariang and Abiemnhom are not functional. The residents and their environment are unhygienic and dehydrated due to lack of water. Examples of settlements whose boreholes are not functional include Bongki, Alilang, Awuch, Yida, Akamel, Dhuony-Dhen Min, Nyokjak Agany, Pathiey, Lowii, Pariang town, Akot (Awul Kor), Biu (most of the boreholes are not working such as Biu Primary school borehole) amongst countless others.

Secretary-General Hon. Ngor Chuang of Ruweng Administrative Area and GPOC Vice President Mijak Arop Wunrok have kept on turning a blind eye and deaf ears to the cry of the dying citizens of Ruweng. Mijak Miakuach (GPOC CD Manager) and Mijok Tiop Ajak (GPOC Field Manager) are minding their paychecks and do not seem to care.

Both Administrative Area authority and GPOC Management have continued to behalf in a manner that signals the attitude of “there is nothing we can do or we do not care about lack of water in Ruweng”.
Regardless of huge Community Development budget, GPOC has resorted to a shoddy response by suppling water using a tanker. The tanker whose capacity is less than 10,000 litres is assumed to adequately supply a population of estimated 20,000 people in Bongki and neighboring settlements. The supplied water is never enough even for hands washing leave alone house chores, people’s drinking and a few domestics animals such as goats. According to eyewitnesses, every supply of water by the tanker has generated in to cause of routine arguments and fists fight amongst the traumatized residents. Even the goats in Bongki can now notice the colour and hoots of the water tanker.

In a more hopeless manner, the government under caretaker Secretary General Hon. Ngor Chuang has shifted its attention towards the local taxes being collected from Yida, Bongki, Ajuong Thok, and Panrieng. Millions of Pounds have continued to be collected from the mentioned areas. However, whatever it is spent on remains to be heard from Mr. Ngor Chuang. To a layman, this money doesn’t seem to be used justly for the services benefiting humans in Ruweng.

On behalf of the people of Ruweng, I, therefore, demand Hon. Ngor Chuang and GPOC Vice President Mijak Arop Wunrok to immediately respond to this need for water. It’s a dry season and our old parents can’t walk 5 hours’ round trip to collect water in 5-litre container from settlements further away.
In a similar note, it is important to note that All public money MUST be used in the delivery of services to the masses. Stay warned that any public fund used for private enrichment will surely haunt those individuals who have habitually been accustomed to this misbehaviour.

THIRST CAN’T WAIT for the appointment of the Chief Administrator. Ruweng caretaker officer should acknowledge that the money collected as local taxes for the last two months can make a great difference if used for the public good in the need of water. Whilst for GPOC, I urge to use the Community Development funds for the right course in areas that are severely hit by the impacts of oil exploration.

To position the citizens of South Sudan in a stronger fight against the prevention of Covid-19, the need for adequate safe water is paramount. PLEASE ACT NOW!!

Dak Miabek is the Secretary of Education-Greater Upper Nile Youth Union (GUNYU)
BA. International Relations and Diplomacy- Nkumba University, Entebbe, Uganda
MA. Humanitarian and Conflict Studies, University of Juba, Juba, South Sudan

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