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FACEBOOK WATCH: Bahr El Gahzal region road project, Fake Photography

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Photos of road construction shared dozens of times across multiple posts on Facebook claims to show a new road in South Sudan. But this is false; the images show roads in other countries and stock photos. 

This Facebook post published on April 12, 2020, includes several photos of roads under construction, accompanied by the claim that they show a new road linking South Sudan’s capital Juba with the northwestern region of Bahr El Ghazal. 

According to the report compiled by a fact-checking journalist in East Africa,
Adeng Mayik, the post’s caption reads: “Congratulations to our able government of South Sudan. Soon or later, we will witness the fruits of our struggle. The road from Juba to Bahr el Ghazal is on progress (sic)”

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on May 13, 2020

The same photos have been shared on several other Facebook pages with the same claim. 

A second Facebook post featuring the same claim, but with different photos of roads, was published on December 10, 2019.

The Arabic caption translates in English to: “Juba-Bahr El Ghazal road. Thanks to his excellency president Salva Kiir for the achievements. We wish you continued progress.”

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on May 13, 2020

Oil for roads 

In February 2019, the government of South Sudan announced its “Oil for infrastructure project”, in which it would pay 10,000 barrels of crude oil per day – later upped to 30,000 barrels – to the Export Bank of China in exchange for the construction of roads linking Juba to Rumbek in the Greater Bahr El Ghazal area, and to the Nadapal belt on the Kenyan border, over the course of an estimated 36 months. Construction is currently underway. 

Images of roads in other countries

However, reverse image searches show that none of the photos in the two Facebook posts are of the Juba-Bahr El Ghazal road in South Sudan, as claimed. 

Let’s start with the first post, which has three images. 

The first picture first appeared here in an article on the NigerDel Star news site on June 26, 2017, long before the South Sudanese road project was announced. According to the article, the photo shows the Niger Delta East-West road in Nigeria. 

Screenshot of NigerDel Star article, taken on May 14, 2020

The second photo first appeared in an article on the Nigerian news site Premium Times on January 14, 2018 — more than a year before the South Sudanese roads project was announced. The photo caption reads: “Personnel of Mothercat Nigeria Limited at work during the Hon. Minister’s inspection tour of the ongoing construction work on the Potiskum Bypass which is part of the Dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri Road Section III in Yobe State on Saturday 18, March 2017”.

The road in question is located in north-eastern Nigeria. 

Screenshot of Premium Times article, taken on May 14, 2020

The third photo appeared in an article published on the Iranian economic news site Financial Tribune on April 18, 2017 — again, long before the South Sudanese roads project was announced. The photo caption reads: “Iranian Bitumen Producer Targets Indian, UAE Markets.”

This image has also been used as a stock photo on multiple websites, including news sites and engineering and construction company websites. 

Screenshot of Financial Tribune article, taken on May 14, 2020

The fourth photo was published on DepositPhotos, a stock photo platform, on November 9, 2015 — more than three years before the Juba-Bahr El Ghazal road project was announced. 

Screenshot of the DepositPhotos website, taken on May 14, 2020

The second Facebook post includes two photos. 

The first one appeared in this article on the Ugandan news site New Vision on March 15, 2019 — a month before construction started on the Juba-Bahr El Ghazal road project. According to the article, the image shows the Kampala-Entebbe expressway that connects Uganda’s capital to the Entebbe international airport.  

Screenshot of the New Vision article, taken on May 14, 2020

The second photo was published on the Ugandan website ChimpReports on November 27, 2017 — once again, long before the South Sudanese roads project was even announced. According to the article, this photo, like the previous one, shows the Kampala-Entebbe expressway. 

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