Posted by Sonya Laurence Green
Sonya Laurence Green & Sudan in Focus co-host John Tanza
June 22 – Road trips can bring dangers old and new in southern Sudan. Drove to Yei today, about 3 hours each way on a dirt road, with some of the Sudan in Focus team to hire a new stringer and cement an affiliate relationship there. Along the way, we got the requisite flat tire (fixed quickly because journalists can be mechanics when they need to be) but that was the least of the risks. This road was a key military route during the war, and we had to stop for awhile as a de-mining crew exploded some ordnance by the roadside, then we were allowed to pass. No stopping to picnic or relieve oneself in the bushes — we held on until we got to town.
(John Tanza, VOA Sudan In Focus co-host & Alan Boswell, VOA Juba bureau chief)
But while the mines will eventually be cleared, a new danger looms: the beautiful, re-graded dirt road that provided a smooth surface has also encouraged speeding, and our new stringer in Yei told me that road accidents are epidemic now as buses and cars hurtle along at breakneck speed. Soon enough, we drove past one old woman swaying in mourning on the roadside, then another, then saw the wreckage of a fresh bus crash from the night before – 5 people had died. We met an old man whose daughter had survived the civil war only to die in this crash. We gave him a ride to Yei, where he was to claim her body from the morgue and arrange her funeral. He was silent and contemplative on the ride to town, while we considered how this may be one of the unfortunate byproducts of the badly-needed development finally coming to the south…