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South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese Constructs Cargo Boat to Tackle Poor Transport Menace

The Cargo boat constructed by the Diocese of Malakal in South Sudan.

Poor road transport in South Sudan’s Diocese of Malakal has motivated the vast Diocese to build its first ever cargo boat for transporting construction materials from the country’s capital Juba as well as to facilitate pastoral ministry in the East-Central African country, the Bishop has told ACI Africa.

Bishop Stephen Nyodho said that the cargo boat, which has a capacity of up to 90 tonnes and will be able to ferry materials for both short and long distances, is almost set for its maiden trip to the Diocese.

“We have constructed a boat through the help of our partners. It is almost ready now and it will be going to Malakal one of these days,” Bishop Nyodho who was visiting Juba told ACI Africa Monday, September 28.

He said that the motivation behind the construction of the boat was to reduce transport costs that were incurred in ferrying building materials inside the Diocese.

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“Previously we used to take some of our building materials from Juba, and bringing the materials here was very expensive, almost double the price that we will now incur,” the South Sudanese Bishop said, adding that the only challenge that may be posed by the boat is fuel costs.

The Local Ordinary of Malakal explained the challenges he had encountered with South Sudan’s poor road structures, and particularly in his Diocese.

“If I have to go to Bor town, I must first of all come from Malakal to Juba and then take a plane to Bor and to return to Malakal I have to come to Juba,” he narrated, and explained, “A majority of our transportation is done using river transport. Even the UN and the other organizations working in Malakal are all using river transport to bring food to IDPs.”

The deprived state of roads in the Diocese of Malakal, Bishop Nyodho said, has made it difficult for Priests to carry out pastoral activities with ease, a situation that underscores the need for the Diocese to have its own boat to avoid huge costs incurred in paying for water transport which is the most convenient mode of transport in the area.

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“If one is to hire a big boat just for a day, it won’t be for less than a thousand US dollars,” he said.

Although fueling the boat is relatively expensive, which he said is 20 barrels to go from Juba to Malakal, the Bishop considers it less of a big problem saying, “The priority is to own a private boat for our Diocese.”

“The construction of our cargo boat is almost going to 50,000 US Dollars. The support came from some partners of the diocese, donors, who have helped us to do that, in addition to a contribution from the Diocese,” he said.

Bishop Nyodho believes the newly constructed boat will assist the Diocese for several years in pastoral outreach and in the transportation of humanitarian services from charity organizations.

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“Within Malakal, if we are to go and have Mass in places like Nassir, we can carry our chairs and tents from Malakal for use at the venue,” the Bishop told ACI Africa and continued, “The boat is both for pastoral and humanitarian work.”

Due to the conflict in South Sudan, particularly in the 15 parishes of the Diocese of Malakal, rebel and government forces looted several automobiles, leaving Priests “to tour the whole parish on foot, spending 3 to 4 hours to visit chapels,” the 47-year-old Prelate said.

“With the war that took place, we in Malakal lost more than 30 cars as a Diocese in all our parishes in Bor, Unity state and Malakal and haven’t been recovered up to now,” he told ACI Africa September 28.

He added, “As I speak, we have only one car in Malakal that we use and cannot go beyond the city because of the absence of roads.”

“All the Priests in the Diocese of Malakal walk on foot just because they love their ministry, their people and they want to provide services and spiritual food to their people.”

About 26 Priests including members of the Comboni Missionaries serve over a million Catholics in the Diocese of Malakal, South Sudan’s vastest Catholic Diocese, which covers a territory of over one third of the East-Central African nation.

In the September 28 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Nyodho expressed the hope that more Missionary Congregations will send their members to the Diocese, subject to a successful implementation of the peace agreement in the country.