State Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Hon. Philip Jiben Ogal, said that the government wishes to deliver services to the citizens who have not fled the state, but that there are no staff in government offices.
“Our government wants to deliver services to the citizens in Malakal; but how do we implement it when most of the government staffs are not present in Malakal?” he said, adding that “It is the right of the government to call for the return of the people.”
Malakal town was highly affected by the on-going South Sudan armed conflict which displaced much of the local population to Protection of Civilian (POC) facilities within United Nations Mission In South Sudan (UNMISS) compounds. Many more have travelled outside the state’s borders to places of safety, including the national capital Juba and neighbouring countries.
In March 2014, the state government was temporarily transferred to Renk town in northern Upper Nile because Malakal was under constant security threat from the rebel movement, which is led by South Sudan’s former vice president, Dr Riek Machar. In the past four months, state workers received their salaries either in Renk or in Juba. However, the state authorities have now ended the temporary arrangements.
The move has angered some of the affected workers, who objected to government calls to return to Malakal. One government employee, known as Peter, is now in Juba. He said, “How can we return to Malakal when we don’t even money for tickets? Will the government provide free tickets for us? This decision will not be easily implemented. I suggest the government reverse the order.”
“It is not possible; every time the government calls for people to return to Malakal- and people end up being killed by the rebel attackers. They should bring peace before they lie to us of untrue stability that they claim now,” said a worker who refuses to be revealed.
Meanwhile, Mininister Ogal revealed that the state’s Governor, Simon Kun Puoch, returned to Malakal last week and that all the state ministers have returned to their offices in Malakal.
“We are all here. All the state ministers are here. It is only the Agriculture Minister who is in Juba because he is assigned by the government to follow up an issue there,” he said.
Jiben concluded: “The government is working hard to make the town attractive to the citizens so that they return and celebrate Independence Day. Our citizens in the UNMISS compound should come out.”