Sudan’s Western Salvation Road remains a mirage
By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
Mohamed Ali Fouad, Mercy of God Upon him in the eternal paradise, was a born mathematician, talented literary linguist and Masterful orator when he was in the first batch of Students at El-Fasher Secondary School in the former Darfur Province during the sixties of the twentieth century. He was originally from El-Geneina in Dar Masalit. I and other group of students lived in the Boarding School dormitory, headed and monitored by Mohammed Ali Fouad, as a senior student. The late Mohamed Ali Fouad was the resident engineer and supervisor of the road. People used to asking him incessantly as to where was the “Road”, a kind of a question for a ridicule and sarcasm, emanating out of the frustration for the slow progress in the implementation of the road. He usually answered with wit and more cynicism: “The road on the way “! Sadly, Mohamed Ali Fouad died in a tragic car accident on the same road he supervised. The Western Trans-regional Salvation Road was a dream for the people of Darfur but in spite of the passage of time, it has not seen the light due to the procrastination of minority elites monopolizing power in the successive regimes in the centre Khartoum that ruled Sudan.
For those who have too little or no prior knowledge about the road with the above title to take note that the so-called Al-Ingaz (Salvation) Western Route was named after the original alias of president al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) regime coup d’état . It is a project of road network aimed at connecting the region of Darfur’s three states with each other and with the capital Khartoum as well as the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad.
The feasibility study of the road, which is supposed to link the Darfur region with the Sudanese Capital Khartoum, began since the era of the English colonization of Sudan in 1947. Moreover, after the work began in 1954, it stopped in 1955 for no obvious reasons. Other promises for the completion of the road came at the beginning of the nineties of the twentieth century.
The kickoff of the execution of the Western Salvation route project in preparation for the implementation for the third time began in 1989, with the coming of the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime after the military coup that put them in power. Nevertheless, it soon stalled amid allegations traded as well as accusation exchanges of naming, blaming and shaming along with innuendoes and reports on the involvement of top government officials in embezzling the fund of the project. There have been awful lot of lies and fabrications of information on the subject relating to the Western Salvation Road over the years.
The following are the main Data of The Western Salvation Road:
Length 1230 Kilometres passing through Nuhud – Khuway – UmKaddada – El-Fasher – Nyala – Kass – Zalingei -El-Geneina – Adre’ in Chad. The Salvation Road for the western Sudan (Kordofan and Darfur exclusively) is a vital artery for Darfur.
Total Estimated Cost 650 million Dollars, a loan from Chinese Company (The Chinese Poly Company).
Length of each of the Sectors as follows:
- Al-Nuhud – al-Obeid 206 KM
- Al- Nuhud – UmKaddada 221Km
- UmKaddada – El-Fasher 168 Km
- Zalingei – El-Geneina 175 Km
- Zalingei – Nyala 213 Km
- Nyala – El-Fasher 205 Km
The Supreme Committee for the road and headed by the former First Vice President of the Republic, late Major General al-Zubair Mohammed Saleh, and after his death, chaired by Mr. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha , First Vice President of the Republic. The task of the Committee included the development of policies for the implementation of the road. Furthermore, the executive body of the road ( which is the authority which holds the executive management of financial , technical, and other follow-ups , and its director , was Major General Abdul Karim al- Husseini, former Governor of Kordofan. The Financially Authorised Committee and chaired by the Minister of Finance Mr. Abdullah Hassan Ahmed as its first president, then presidency went to his successor, Dr. Abdul Wahab Osman. The task of the committee was to monitor and control the financial aspect of the Western Salvation Road. Whereas the responsibility of Dr. Ali Al- Hajj Mohammed Adam confined to his responsibility in the Western Salvation Road in the campaign to attract the donation of sugar, which relinquished (give it up) by the people of Darfur from their shares for a period of two years for the benefit of the road. Dr. Ali Al- Hajj Mohammed Adam has been exonerated and his innocence of any wrongdoing in the process of the Western Salvation Highway has been proven through the merits of the case and the silence of those involved in the issue of the road. The refusal of the authorities concerned to provide the entire case to the courts to decide, as well stands as evidence. He was made the scape goat for the rife corruption of the NIF regime The people of Darfur contributed generously and paid with all sincerity and goodwill the most expensive and precious commodity for the Western Salvation Highway to see light. However, they (Darfuris) eventually caught the wind and stayed barehanded as the popular Sudanese saying goes.
The Chinese Poly Company in collaboration with Danfodio Company commenced the implement the first sector of the road.
Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud said the federal government provided funding in the amount 304 million dollars for the Western Salvation Road Project. The minister said that work in various sectors might start soon. A statement attributed to the NCP President Omar al-Bashir in August 2010 indicated that an allocation of 50% share of the Sugar Supply for the regions of Darfur and Kordofan for two years made in lieu for the implementation of the Western Salvation Road in three years.
By mere comparison, the highway, nicknamed the Northern Artery Road (Shiryan al-Shimal), North bound, Omdurman towards Dongola (Halfa – al-Sakoat – al-Mahas – Dongola – Meroe – Omdurman), (115) kilometer -long has been implemented in a record time because of favoritism and nepotism. Nevertheless, the people of Darfur have no enmity, animosity, grudges or jealousy towards their fellow citizens of the Northern region. The Northern Region citizens have the right to have their territory developed. Lack of development was one of the important root causes that compelled the people in the Darfur region to take up arms when the central government refused to listen to their basic citizenship rights. Not only that, the NIF declared genocidal war, which plagued Sudan’s Darfur region ever since 2003. Nevertheless, the people of Sudan in Darfur deplore any kind of double standards or preferential treatment of some citizens over the others. The Darfuris detest the kind of ideology adopted by the National Congress Party finance Guru Abdelrahim Mohammed Hamdi, author of the infamous “Hamdi Triangle favoured for Development”.
These bigoted racist folks in the despotic beleaguered regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) have neither the will – desire, nor the skill or ability to implement this vital trans-regional public highway project for the benefit of the people of Darfur. People had doubts as to whether sincerity would prevail in the course of the execution of project from the day one of the declaration of the plan of the project.
The people of Darfur contributed generously and paid with all sincerity and goodwill the most expensive and precious commodity for the Western Salvation Highway to see light.
The hope that deliverance of the Western Salvation Road will come any time soon is just a dream. The Salvation Road is a name that smacks of mockery.
A string of corruption scandals allegations had been traded as well as accusation exchanges of naming, blaming and shaming over the slow course of construction of the Western Salvation Road over the past fifteen odd years. The truth of which has yet to come out. Everyone knows well that the Western Salvation Road is the only one of the roads within Sudan, which has been paid the price and was funded by the people of Darfur who have already given up their share of sugar and the milk for their children for a number of years.
The causes underlying the fateful abject delay of implementation of this so-called Ingaz Road are marginalisation, Institutional racism directed against the people of Darfur, systematic deprivation of their legitimate citizenship rights and the rampant institutional corruption. The foregoing represents the main root causes for the escalation of the rebellion into armed struggle.
Maj. Gen. al-Zubeir Mohammed Saleh – the mercy of God be upon him –was quoted to have said in the early days of the NIF coup d’état: “O brothers we are simple people and the sons of farmers and if you find us passengers in luxury cars and built buildings be sure that we have become corrupt “!
The Story of the Western Salvation Road Darfur –Khartoum is tiresomely long, eternal quarreling and boringly endless. It has no known beginning and presumably no ending. The road remained constantly a dream for the people of Darfur at the same station despite the passage of decades without seeing the light.
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is https://thussudan.wordpress.com/