20 February 2012 - To support infrastructural development in the Republic of South Sudan, 120 Japanese UNMISS engineering peacekeepers arrived at Juba International Airport today.
Present to welcome them were Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan Akinori Wada, Government Spokesperson Dr. Benjamin Marial, Minister for Roads and Bridges General Gier Chuang Aluong and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Deputy Secretary General Anna Itto.
“On behalf of our Government of South Sudan and our people, we warmly welcome this contingent, which will assist a lot in road infrastructure,” said Dr. Marial. “They will contribute to the infrastructure building of this country.”
The 120 engineers are the second group of 330 Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF) engineers expected to join the UN peacekeeping operation in South Sudan. The first logistics advance team of 34 arrived on 15 January.
“Another 30 will arrive in March (and) then we will complete our first deployment by the end of March,” said Japanese Colonel Toru Namatame. “Then we get ready for initiating our engineering activities.”
The capital Juba has about 70 kilometres of tarmacked roads. Col. Namatame said the unit specialized in horizontal engineering and that their main role would be road and bridge construction.
“Currently road roller, excavators, bulldozers and water tankers have just arrived in Juba,” he said. “Our other equipment is currently under deployment from Japan.”
Roads minister Gen. Aluong said the peacekeepers would provide technical support to his ministry. “Their role is going to be technical support, because they are engineers in an area of engineering where we have a gap.”
The team makes the ninth Japanese GSDF participation in UN peacekeeping operations.
According to Ambassador Wada, Japan has supported South Sudan for a long time.
“Today the arrival of the Japanese contingent is proof of Japan’s further commitment to support this country of South Sudan for its national building. I hope that they will do their best in this country,” he said.