South Sudan govt sued in a Tanzanian court over Naam River

South Sudan govt sued in a Tanzanian court over Naam River
Part of the contentious Naam River. [Courtesy]

South Sudan government has been dragged to court over the emotive Naam River drama.

Attorney General who is the president’s chief legal advisor has been sued at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in Arusha, Tanzania, by a pressure group opposed to the dredging of the river.  

“You are hereby notified that the above-named applicant has instituted a reference again you,” read a court summon seen by City Review.

The court paper signed by Registrar further reads: “You are requested to file a response within 45 days from the day of service hereof. In default, whereof, the reference will be heard and determined in your absence.”

The case was filed by a South Sudanese lawyer, Elario Cholong who also sought a temporary injunction to stop the dredging of River Naam.

Last week, dredging machines arrived in the country, allegedly from Egypt, via Sudan, ready to dredge the river. The development left the leadership divided right in the middle with the national government has continued to deny any knowledge of the planned exercise with the Unity state government in support.

Peter Portsix, the Press Secretary in the Office of the Governor – Unity State, last Friday said that the local government was aware of the planned dredging contrary to a stand taken by the

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Peter Manawa Gatkuoch.

But Portsix said the project is being carried out in accordance with an agreement between the national Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, and the Egyptian government.

A section of the country, especially Jonglei has been experiencing perennial flooding that has displaced locals. Some locals believe that it is only creating a water pathway that will solve the flooding menace if Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who escaped the flooding return to their homes.

But Cholong, a Juba-based lawyer, said the project is environmentally untenable and will traverse the protected area in East Africa with undue regard to livelihoods, gender, food children, and public health of the people in the region.

“The area through which the dredging project shall pass is comprised of several settlements, farmlands, and water sources for thousands of indigenous persons and there has been no regard to their rights,” he argued.

He added that “the Egyptian dredging project will traverse many legally protected forest reserves and several rivers and lakes that are water sources for thousands of people, animals and wildlife habitats.|

The lawyer said South Sudanese shall suffer substantial and irreparable loss and damages to the environment including wiping out of the protected animal species and forest reserves, ecosystem and loss of livelihoods should the project condone to proceed.

The government is yet to release a statement on the matter.