• Taban Gabriel

Jebel Kujur on the verge of extinction

By Taban Gabriel, Juba

Jebel Kujur, the mountain that has held irresistible attractions for centuries and whose perilous yet majestic landform has continued to hold a position of awe and wonderment in our life, is on the verge of extinction.

Excavation and stone mining activities melted against the mountain by construction companies and individuals— particularly youths —have taken a very serious and devastating pace. The mountain has completely been stripped naked of its beautiful block stones. From Nyakuron West and Rock City areas, only red soil and water contour from the top can be seen on the sides of the mountain. This same soil often erodes to the main road and houses when there is a heavy downpour, which are likely signs of landslides. Meanwhile on the Northern site of the mountain, hiking has become a dominant recreational activity; This particular exercise engages citizens from different walk of life, which includes politicians (both current post holders and retrenched), youth, children, the elderly and people of different colours and race.

A view of Juba from the Jebel Kujur's hiking route.

During my recent visit to the mountain, I was amazed by what my eyes landed on; Here are the few experiences of my leisurely walk through the different pitches of the mountain which I think can be of interest to any concern citizen: At the preliminary, my eyes were met with a mammoth of high-end cars parked along the road site leading to the mountain. These cars were purportedly owned by some hikers who jam the mountain every weekend. It was here that I met a number of malnourished and pale looking young men, probably local brew (Siko) addicts, who were carrying dancing buckets in their hands as by a hair's breadth they struggle to wash some of the cars. One of them who spoke to me said that, they sponge the cars without prior authorisation from the owners. But the good part he said is that they get paid for their hustles, once the hikers retire from Jebel Kujur.

At the foot of the mountain leading to an enormous church owned by a renowned evangelist Abraham Chol, I met some of the grimy looking folks who are engage in tearing down the stones; some of them who spoke to me said that they were purely hired to carry on with the excavation activity. They didn’t cite any company or individual to support their claims though. However as I continued to the top of the mountain, my eyes were met with this horrible sight; the destruction of the mountain, if I may insinuate. The block stones on the trail leading to the top of the mountain were picked by a group of young men at their twenties, making the pathway very slippery for the hikers. On my left hand view, I saw a number of approximately 10 to 15 youths ganged with heavy duty harmers aiming at one nice looking giant stone. Meanwhile in a distance of less than 100 metres I spotted a steam of smokes dashed from a cave, which I suspected to be burning tyres used to weaken the stones. While on top of the mountain, I glance down to Yei road, state of the art machines for breaking stones dominated the area.

Artisanal stone miners in the Jebel Kujur area.

Based on all these findings, I concluded that the mountain is under attack from all directions and is on the verge of extinction And by that, I urge the National Ministry of Environment and Central Equatorial State Authorities under the leadership of Emmanuel Adil Anthony to intervene to safe Jebel Kujur. The two aforementioned institutions have the prerogative to stop the illegal stone mining and save its future. I am not trying to become a proponent of unemployment, but the destruction of a very beautiful feature like that of Jebel Kujur can never be taken as an excuse. There are other mountains around Juba where youths can go break rocks to sustain their families, if it’s the only source of winning bread to their table. Mine is just a noble call; you either save Jebel Kujur or face the wrath of a landslide in the nearest future.

History will judge us all if we don’t do our part. The time is now, stop stone mining at Jebel Kujur.

The writer is a freelance journalist and opinion writer. For any comment on the story, he can be reached by email at: gabronn2014@gmail.com

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