By Peter Mwayi
Plans to move South Sudan’s capital from Juba to Ramciel have got a new boost with the signing of an agreement between the South Sudan government and Morroco’s King Mohammed VI in which a $5m feasibility study will be done with funding from Morocco.
King Mohammed VI, who is in South Sudan for a three-day state visit, also witnessed, together with his host president Salva Kiir, the signing of eight other agreements on general cooperation, promotion of investment, avoidance of double taxation vocational training and agriculture. Four memoranda were also signed on industrial cooperation, mining and commerce between the two countries.
In 2011, the South Sudan cabinet approved a $10-billion plan to relocate the capital to Ramciel, a pastoralist area located in Eastern Lakes State, which is assumed to be neutral and central in the country. The justification was that there was not enough land for government buildings in Juba.
That plan was never implemented, largely because funding was not available.
“The Kingdom of Morocco has taken upon itself the commitment to finance the project (assessment fees) worth five million dollars,” said Moroccan Minister of Interior, Mohammed Hassan.
Environmental and social effect of the new city will be carried out, although no date has been set for the project to commence.
John Garang, the first president of Southern Sudan, reportedly wanted to place the national capital in Ramciel during his administration, but he died before South Sudan achieved independence and its largest city of Juba became the capital instead.
Ramciel is about 200kms north of Juba and located on the western side of the White Nile.
The area is inhabited by Aliab Community who are natives of the area. The land is used for grazing and cultivation during the dry season and in the Nile marshes during the wet season. There are conflicting reports over its suitability for larger-scale construction, with some characterising the area as sunken and swampy and others contending that the rocky highlands can support a major city if one were to be built there.