By Su Hang, People's Daily
A truck loaded with basic commodities was moving from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to the country's second largest city, Wau, in Western Bahr el Ghazal, in the scorching summer heat of the African country.
John was sitting in the driver's cabin of the truck, wiping his sweats again and again. Gradually, he saw more and more trucks lining up in front of him, and he knew that he was about to get to the Jur River.
"Wau is just across the river. I have to wait in line every time I cross the river," John said.
Most daily necessities in Wau are from the eastern and southern regions of South Sudan, such as Juba, and they must cross the old bridge spanning the Jur River in order to get to their final destination.
Speaking of the bridge, John was quite upset.
"It's long been out of service life, but not repaired, and the bridge surface is severely damaged," he said. To ensure safety, cargo trucks have to pass the bridge one by one.
"It takes hours to cross the bridge in the rainy season, as there is mud all over it," John added.
Fortunately, such scenarios are about to be gone forever. Thanks to the "eight major initiatives" of China-Africa cooperation, the construction of a China-aided bridge commenced on the Jur River in January 2021.
The new bridge has a designed length of 240 meters and a width of 14 meters, and spans a total of 1,480 meters. It is expected to be put into use next year. So far, the lower-part structure of the bridge has been completed, and the upper part is well underway.
The construction of the bridge has created hundreds of jobs for the local community.
"What I loved the most in the past was coming to the river to watch hippos," said Along from Wau, who was once jobless.
In early 2021, he saw a Chinese construction company when he came to the Jur River, which brought many machines. When he learned that the Chinese company was building a bridge there, he waited at the gate of the project site every day, hoping to get a job.
Finally, he was employed. Chinese technicians taught him welding and trained him to be a skilled welder. With his salary, Along bought furniture and home appliances for his family.
"My friends are all envious of my job. I must thank my Chinese colleagues and thank the project site for offering me this opportunity," Along said.
"This is the largest bridge being built in Western Bahr el Ghazal. Upon completion, the transportation between the two banks of the river will be more convenient, which is very important for regional economic development," said Peter Baranda, an engineer sent to the project site by South Sudan's Ministry of Roads and Bridges.
"The bridge will boost our businesses and logistics, and every one of us is looking forward to the completion of it," he added.
Over the past year, John would catch a glimpse of the bridge's progress every time he passed by the project site on his truck. Seeing the increasing number of bridge piers, he feels more and more excited.