Hamashkorieb, Kassala State, June 10, 2013 – Just a few years ago, the route through the desert to Hamashkorieb was so dangerous, only the brave would attempt the two-day trek to reach the historic religious community. The sick would die long before reaching the health clinic in the nearest town, and during the five-month rainy season, no one could get in or out.
But now that the new Gadamai-Hamashkorieb road has been built, the community is no longer isolated at the Sudan-Eritrea border. Travel time has been reduced from days to hours, and once expensive travel costs have been cut in half.
“The lorry driver would refuse to go all the way to drop us, but now the road makes transport possible for us,” said Ali Talab, who used to pay as much as 20 Sudanese pounds for transportation to and from Hamashkorieb. “We are so proud that we are one of the few villages which have roads and access when so many others don’t.”
The development of Gadamai-Hamashkorieb road is part of the National Emergency Transport Rehabilitation Project (NETRP), a US$64.7 million investment in Sudan’s transportation routes to improve access to goods, markets and administrative and social services. Along with Gadamai-Hamashkorieb road, the project includes the improvement of roads in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, as well as the repair and reopening of Babanusa-Wau rail line. Together, the transportation improvements have provided all-weather access to goods and services for more than 220,000 people.
“People are no longer confined,” said Tesfamichael Mitiku, senior transportation engineer for the World Bank. “They are free to go to the market during the rainy season.”
The new transportation routes have also increased agricultural opportunities in the communities around the new roads and railway, Mitiku said. The farmers of Hamashkorieb are now able to produce sorghum and sesame.
“There is fertile area around Hamashkorieb, so the opening of the road is reviving agricultural activity,” Mitiku said. “They are also able to sell at the bigger market in the country.”
Adalla Mohammed, who lives in Hamashkorieb, said they were also able to establish a water point, which has given the community access to water for themselves, their animals and to grow tomato and okra crops.
“Our livestock has somewhere to drink from,” Mohammed said. “The animals, all types of animals, as well as our community and our crops have water now that the water point has been done.”
However, the implementation of the project was not without its challenges. The Hamashkorieb community initially fought the development of the road.
“We are a traditional community and we like to keep to ourselves,” said Mohammed, pointing out that the road went through land owned by the families who live there. “But now that we have seen the benefits of this road, we are grateful for it.”
The Kadugli-Kaouda road in South Kordofan and the Damazin-Kurkmuk road in Blue Nile state were not completed to asphalt level, but built to gravel level after conflict erupted in both states.
The Babanusa-Wau rail line opened two years ago for the first time in 25 years, connecting Sudan to South Sudan. About nine months ago, transportation into South Sudan was suspended pending a facilities agreement between the two countries. Still, the railway is the only dependable transportation to the South Sudan border.
“This railway is their life, their life line,” Mitiku said. “It means a lot to the local people; they were very happy to be reconnected.”
The National Emergency Transport Rehabilitation Project is one of 15 projects funded by the Multi-Donor Trust Fund-National (MDTF-N).Through the MDTF-N, nine countries and the World Bank contributed US$64.7 million to the development and rehabilitation of three roads and the railway, bringing access to states throughout the country. Funding for the MDTF-N ends June 30, 2013.