Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Like a Troubled Bridge Over Water..."

One of the major challenges to ground travel in S.Sudan is the fact that there are many rivers but very few bridges.  In the rainy season--8 months of the year--a swollen river or even a fast-moving stream means that travelers must either turn back or wait (hours? days?) until the water subsides.  

There was immense public jubilation, therefore, at the completion of this bridge outside of Rumbek town shortly after S.Sudan's independence. Once the parade had marched and the ribbon had been cut and the festivities had died down, the government sent a convoy of military tanks across the bridge in response to bombings further north by Khartoum.  Alas, the bridge buckled under the weight of the rolling tanks and has been usable only by the brave since that day.  Vehicles daring enough or desperate enough to chance a crossing must first let all passengers off, then inch slowly across to the uneasy tune of creaks and groans from bending timber and steel.  I've walked across it twice myself but would never attempt to cross it in a vehicle.  With a nod to Simon and Garfunkel, I've dubbed it the "Troubled Bridge Over Water."  A bypass is currently under construction....

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