On SPLA Day, business in Bor feels the pinch of postponement

(Juba, Southern Sudan NSV)-  As Southern Sudan and its people mark the 28th Anniversary of May 16, the day that sparked off an armed Revolution in 1983, business in Jonglei capital is counting its losses after a committee charged with the event abruptly postponed it.

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                                                                                                       South Sudan Hotel in Bor (ST photo)
 
Jonglei is chosen as this year’s host of the SPLA Day, the last before independence in July, to honour its contributions to the struggle which launched the SPLM/SPLA Revolution in Bor some 28 years ago.
 
The business community in Bor stood to benefit greatly from the celebrations, it seemed. Hotels were booked by prospective spectators of the event, from Juba and surrounding towns.
Government had sealed-off hotels like Freedom for its exclusive use.
 
Day of Courage
 
Kur Magul, who’s manager of Freedom Hotel said they have lost customers due to the deferment of the event to May 26.  “It’s a shock, everybody was ready for it,” he said.
 
Since the government had earmarked Freedom, it denied them an opportunity to accept other private customers in order to sell them their food and services, he said.
 
While the hotel was bustling with customers, it now remains idle because of slow stream of visitors to Bor, Magul said.
 
Although residents of Jonglei, particularly the business community, are unhappy with the bypassing of the Monday event, the historical nature of May 16 is being lauded by all.
 
SPLM Secretary for Political Affairs, Antipas Nyok Kucha hailed the day in a phone interview with The New Sudan Vision on Friday from Juba, as “the day in which all our people took courage” and “wrote a new life, a historical moment,” free from oppression from Arab north.
 
Mr Kucha said the official celebration of SPLA Day was moved to a future date because the occasion’s organizing committee faced some logistical challenges.  
Others NSV spoke to blamed the untimely celebration of the Anniversary on late release of funding.
 
Unhappy about postponement  
 
Timely holding of SPLA Day was critical, especially for the last 16 May before Independence because of its powerful symbolism. Bor will be the last place the SPLM Political Bureau meets as a unified entity before it separates into north and south after July 9th.
 
The capital of Jonglei is also credited as the birthplace of the SPLM, so holding the event on time would have preserved the solemn nature of SPLA Day and avoided shortchanging the business fraternity.
 
For Gak Arok, the managing director of Garden Resort in Bor, the postponement came so fast. He’s still reeling in its aftermath.  “It’s a big loss,” he said.  

He estimates he’s lost about 25,000 Pounds in five days of inactivity.
 
His inventory is packed with goods he’d bought for the occasion.
 
Customers who booked his hotel didn’t only fail to turn up, but they also didn’t pay their downpayments, he said.
 
In addition, Magul said Freedom has not yet been reimbursed for earmarking the hotel for the government’s sole use.
 
Arok believes his hotel will not regain its lost profit when the event takes place on May 26.
 
“Everybody is not happy about that,” he added. “We don’t have regular customers like before.”

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