South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar, has visited the national territory of the proposed new capital, Ramciel, in Lakes state and inspected a number sites in the area.
On Friday Machar visited Guthum area within the territory of the new national capital where a possible sea port for the capital could be located as well as the Holy Cross site where the first Christian missionary was established in South Sudan.
The Vice President’s Press Secretary, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune that Machar further enlightened the host communities of Ramciel area about the coming phase of ground survey of the new capital and the eventual relocation from Juba.
“The whole of South Sudan is coming here,” Machar told a crowd of Ramciel inhabitants who responded with applauds.
The national government last year resolved to relocate from Juba to the new capital because of a number of reasons. Machar told the population of Ramciel that one of the reasons for relocating from Juba to Ramciel is to resolve the issue of land which was difficult to ascertain in Juba.
Unlike Juba, Ramciel’s current local population is small with scattered villages far from one another.
Juba was also disqualified because of administrative stalemate over which level of government – national, state, local - its jurisdiction should fall under.
He also said Ramciel is located in the center of South Sudan. “If you travel from Eastern Equatoria, or from Raja in Western Bahr el Ghazal or from northern part of Upper Nile, you would probably reach Ramciel at the same time,” he emphasized.
This is the third time the Vice President has visited Ramciel area following his last year’s visit after the cabinet resolved to relocate to the site. He first visited the area in 2003 before the signing of the CPA in his capacity as the SPLM’s Vice Chairman for Administration and was asked by late leader John Garang in Nairobi to inspect the area for a possible site for a new capital.
Late Garang approved Machar’s report on Ramciel as the new capital but the decision was later on changed after intellectuals and elders from Equatoria region sent a delegation to Nairobi and presented a protest to the late chairman.
Machar informed the inhabitants that an international company will soon come to the area to conduct ground survey.
A South Korean company known as South Korean Land and Housing Corporation won the contract out of 66 international companies that competed in the bidding exercise in order to carry out the feasibility study of the proposed area.
After the decision was made to relocate last year, the minister of Housing and Physical Planning, Jemma Nunu Kumba, was directed by the cabinet to work out plans for the relocation to the new capital.
In a meeting on Wednesday chaired by the country’s Vice President, Riek Machar, the minister and the company presented the work done including the aerial imagery survey of the Ramciel.
The company reported that the next phase will be to carry out the ground survey including mapping, feasibility study, environmental and social impact assessment, city structure framework and demarcation of zones which should be completed by October this year.
The government is currently mobilizing foreign investment to finance the construction of the new capital city.