South Sudan Civil Societies Hold Workshop On Accountability

Paloch Oil Field communities in Upper Nile State use chemical containers to draw water and have been complaining that they are not benefiting from resources in the oil industries. [Gurtong | File]

The workshop that organized by Publish What You Pay (PWYP) South Sudan Rev. James Ninrew, Interim Chairperson for Civil society working group on transparency and accountability on natural and public discussed several issues relating to oil impact to the environment, citizens and their livestock.

Speaking during the conference, Rev. James Ninrew stressed that the Civil Society Organizations have a great role to play and to advise the stakeholders in the resources channeled to the wrong direction and how best the country could use its resources in the right way despite many challenges.

Ninrew urged all the Stakeholders to be responsible in any case arising either from environmental pollutions, water contamination resulting from operation and many lives of people and animals in the oil producing states.

One of the oil taskforce member from Unity State say that “the situation on the ground has gone beyond description, people there are living dog life… oil money as stated in the revenue management bill that gives oil producing states 5% is nowhere to be seen.”

The conference also highlights the role of the media houses when it comes to reporting the facts and should seriously be involved.

Many people believe that if the National Government could not release the community share, the priorities on the top of the State Government plan will not go as they are expected but some say the discussion is a response to curb corruption and misuse of public funds.

President Salva Kiir directed the Caretaker Governor of Unity State Dr. Joseph Manytuil Wejang to quickly prioritize the construction of roads, schools, health centers and water network just at the beginning of the dry season among others.

PWYP South Sudan is currently building strong coalition to traces the management of all revenues income such as oil that constitute 98% of the total budget, gold, fishes that are said to be imported from Uganda while the Country (South Sudan) has plenty of them.

The workshop also urged the government and oil companies to publish what they pay, what they receive and what they have done to the local communities and also urged the oil companies and government to be transparent with the contracts signed to promote and ensure accountability, competence of resources management since the government has signed up for Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The Acting and Deputy Governor of the Government of Unity State Col. Mabek Lang Mading stressed last week during a stakeholders forum that “the government of the Republic of South Sudan should do more to make sure that services delivery is among the top priorities and that the local communities are put in picture and consulted when need arises.

He added that the Government of Unity State is committed to implement and developmental project that aimed to improve the current situation in the Country in term of services delivery and how the local community gets their right share of resources.

The State Minister of Gender and Social Development Honorable Mary Paul Ngundeng said that the government should also concentrate on other source of revenues such as livestock and agriculture among other resources.

The conference has discussed and identified few priorities and challenges in the natural resources management in the Republic of South Sudan.

The priority actions included; to improve the management of the oil and mining sector and their respective institutional framework, pass the Petroleum Management Bill and subsequently set up the future generations fund, the government should sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and to increase investment in resource extraction, transport and processing and refining capacity.

The government and the civil societies organizations has been conducting several conferences with the help from the international communities, Public What You Pay (PWYP) and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), pushing the government to be a member of two entities so that transparency and accountability are put into action.

Since 2008, the Norwegian People Aids have been supporting three oil taskforces of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei States that are currently involved in advocating for the right of local community, services delivery, and environmental impact to the community, employment and will also be carrying out an awareness and dissemination of petroleum management Bill and Revenue management Bill so that that local community know their right and share of their resources and to mobilize the oil industries employees to form a strong union that will negotiate their grievances with their employers.

Three oil taskforces representatives from Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei with support from NPA are invited by PWYP to travel to Norway for the second time to access what role played by PWYP in Norway.

Due to the legacy of conflict and neglect, socio-economic development in South Sudan starts from very low base, despite a nominally high income derived from oil, in the absence of the basic infrastructure and limited services delivery capacity where many people remain cutoff from access to social services.

The areas discussed in the conference are legitimate politics, security, Justices, Economic foundations and revenues services.

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