On Thursday, jubilant crowds came out to cross South Sudan’s first permanent bridge over the River Nile after it was officially opened.
The 560-metre long bridge on the edge of Juba, the capital, dubbed Freedom was constructed using a grant from the Japanese government.
Construction kicked off in 2013 but had to be dismissed multiple times following the civil war and the coronavirus pandemic.
The previous bridge could often be dismantled and moved and was sometimes dangerous to cross – especially for pedestrians.
The opening on Thursday was attended by the Kenyan presidential candidate and AU infrastructure envoy Raila Odinga, as well as the head of Japan’s International Cooperation Agency Tanaka Akihiko.
President Salva Kiir told those assembled that the Freedom Bridge was a symbol of long and lasting friendship between the people of Japan and South Sudan.
It is hoped that the bridge will ease traffic congestion in Juba as well as help speed up trade.
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.