- South Sudanese soldiers guard an oil refining facility (AFP)
“We are working to stabilize the situation and improve the economic situation. Now I have instructed the chief of general staff to work with his team to send more troops to Bentiu and other oil areas to ensure there is adequate security for oil workers and the community,” the South Sudanese leader told the state-owned SSBC.
“They will ensure those who want to cut the pipeline do not get access to disturb security of oil companies. This is one of the priorities and will be done”, he added.
While meeting the Jikany community leaders on Thursday, Kiir urged all armed forces to do everything they can to distinguish between civilians and combatants and thus avoid unnecessary suffering of the people and prevent collateral damage to property.
He admitted the economic situation was not encouraging due the nation’s ongoing war.
Conflict in South Sudan cut oil output by a third to about 160,000 barrels per day. The country is currently only pumping oil in Upper Nile state after production in Unity state stalled in 2014.
However, in May this year, the country’s Petroleum and Mining Ministry said oil production was quickly declining and future production would not reach even half of what the country used to realize five years ago.
South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity now faces an uphill task of reviving an economy largely dependent on oil resources to support its budget.
The oil sector, which accounts for over 90% of government revenues, has been badly affected the recent war, in addition to the decline in oil prices on world markets
Commodity prices also shot up due to the devaluation of the local currency, South Sudanese pound, which has gravely impacted on the transport sector in the country.
The most affected are importers of food items and general household goods who have to deal with sharply increased prices to bring in goods from neighbouring Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Many investors have left local and regional businesses collapse, while unemployment has increased.
South Sudan is one of poorest countries in the world with the worst indicators on development, health and education.
The conflict, which broke out in 2013, has negatively impacted on the nation’s citizens, including pushing the country to the brink of famine with over 3 million people, in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, aid agencies warned.
Observers say despite being oil-rich, South Sudan is likely to record negative gross domestic product growth in 2016 after growing by 30.7 percent two years ago, largely due its conflict, decline in oil production and global fall in oil prices.