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South Sudan behind court to pay $49M military infrastructure debt

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Kelly Rwamapera – South Sudan has conceded to pay US$49.3 debt to Yu Sung Construction, the builders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) infrastructures whose unpaid debt interests have been burgeoning for nearly a decade ago.

The construction of Dr John Garang Memorial Military Academy, four warehouses and fuel depot began in 2007 and ended 2011 with unpaid debt of US$18.6 million whose interests have accumulated up to US$49.3 million, the amount to be paid.

According to the Kigali Law Tidings, a consent order between South Sudan and Yu Sung Construction dated 26 November 2020 addressed to the East African Court of Justice, specifying that the debt will be paid until September 2021.

“We have a pleasure to kindly request your Honourable to file a Consent Order of the payment of 49,398,473.91 in four installments … and be marked as settled” a consent order addressed to the Regional Court said.

Debt servicing will start this month with a pay of over US$10.9 million on 15 December 2020 and end on 30 September 2021.

Through Ssemuyaba, Iga Advocates from Kampala along with Lumumba and Lumumba Advocates from Kenya, Yu Sung construction had dragged South Sudan to the regional court in November 2019, seeking payments of the nine-year old debt.

In September 2011 two months after South Sudan had become a country, the SPLA terminated the contract with Yu Sung when the total debt was US$18,609,595, attracting interests of US$2,791,439.25 per annum.

The lawyers implored the court to issue Conservatory Orders which would affect over 20 crude oil cargos of South Sudan worth US$700 million until the determination of the case.

The applicant also  submitted that South Sudan authorities changed the construction of Dr John Garang Memorial Military Academy to four different sites, causing friction in the construction process.

“At Rajaf in South Sudan, after foundations were laid, the locals staged a resistance against the SPLA construction project and the project had to be moved to a second site” the submission said.

The SPLA authorities chose Kurmork which unfortunately proved to be prone to flooding after foundations had been laid and some buildings already at an advanced stage, according to the submission.

The project owners chose a third site in Mangalla country near Juba-Bor Highway which also came to be prone to flooding of the Nile and the project was moved to Suleng 75 kilometers away in northeast of the capital Juba.

“The down payment had been exhausted by 2009, causing labour unrest. We started selling off equipment to pay off the local labourers” the lawsuit said.

In 2011, a meeting led by Brig. General Abuol Deng and Brig. Gen. James Hakim Elia suggested the review of the contract but the idea was later trashed and Yu Sung was kicked out when the authorities owed them over US$ 18 million.

The debt has been accumulating in interests ever since bring it to over US$49.3 million by September 2021.

(source: Kigali Law Tidings)

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