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Cablegate: Goss Asks for Help with Roads

VZCZCXRO5624
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0265 0550637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240637Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0019
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000265

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELNT EAID PREL PGOV SU
SUBJECT: GoSS ASKS FOR HELP WITH ROADS

1. (U) This is an action request - see para. 8.

2. (SBU) Summary: On February 22, GoSS Minister of Roads and
Transport David Deng Athorbei paid a call on the Congen to request
assistance with the purchase of road building equipment that he said
is urgently needed to open up a new road connecting Southern Sudan
to Ethiopia and Djibouti. The GoSS, he said, is increasingly
worried about instability in Kenya and the reliability of Mombassa
as a port for the shipment of critically needed supplies to the
South. Already Southern Sudan is suffering sharply rising prices
for such commodities as fuel and bread because of the difficulties
in Kenya, and the GoSS feels it needs to have alternative
transportation options to protect itself from future problems. End
Summary.

3. (SBU) The Minister presented the Congen with a letter and an
attachment outlining a request for $4.3 million worth of road
building equipment. The equipment is urgently needed to complete
construction of a new highway to the Ethiopian border. The
Ethiopians, in order to encourage trade with Southern Sudan, are in
the process of completing a new road into the South, and the
Minister indicated that when it was completed inside Ethiopia they
had agreed to build another 50 kilometers of it on the Sudanese side
of the border if the GoSS would supply them with the petrol needed
to perform the work. However, that still left about 45 kilometers
of new road that the GoSS will have to build on its own to complete
the project.

4. (SBU) The Minister said that recent unrest in Kenya had awakened
the GoSS to the urgent need to expand its transportation
infrastructure so that the South was not totally dependent on Kenya
for nearly all of its critically needed imports. Already, the South
has been seriously affected by the problems in Kenya and is now
paying much higher prices for such commodities as fuel and even
bread. The GoSS has to develop, he said, alternative transportation
routes so as not to leave itself vulnerable to the instability of
its neighbors. The GoSS, he also indicated, was very pessimistic
about the future stability of Kenya.

5. (SBU) The Congen also remarked that he had heard that some SPLA
military supplies had been seized by the GoK, and wondered if that
was not also a motivating factor in seeking an alternate port to
Mombassa. The Minister admitted that it was, and the feeling in the
South was that the Ethiopians would be more helpful in this regard.

6. (SBU) The Congen commented that it sm
Mind needed
intensive maintenance? The Minister responded that the GoSS
understood that and had started programs to train the mechanics
needed, and had set aside a half million dollars with which to buy
spare parts when the equipment was purchased.

7. (SBU) Asked why the GoSS simply did not hire the work done, the
Minister complained that their past contracts with foreign road
building companies had not been satisfactory. The GoSS considered
that it had been taken advantage of, and felt it urgently needed to
develop its own capacity to build road infrastructure.

8. (SBU) Comment and Action Request: It is understandable why the
GoSS wants to create a wider based, more reliable transportation
infrastructure that does not hold it hostage to developments in any
one of its neighbors. They are highly vulnerable to the current
unrest in Kenya, which has had a major negative impact on their
economy. The request for assistance was delivered by the Congen to
USAID, but he was told it was highly unlikely USAID would be able to
honor it. However, a transportation route into Ethiopia is a
critical economic and security requirement for the GoSS. If any ESF
funds could be used for this purpose, Post suggests that serious
consideration be given to providing the assistance. Reducing the
isolation of the South and building its economy both helps it to
deal from a position of strength with the NCP, which uses just these
kinds of vulnerabilities to its advantage, and it will reduce the
effects of regional instability on the Southern Sudan.


FERNANDEZ

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