Tuti...a Dreaming Island Enjoys Various Blessings
Tuti Island (also spelled Tutti Island) is an island in Sudan where the White Nile and Blue Nile converge and merge to form the main Nile. It is surrounded by the "Three Towns": Khartoum (the capital of Sudan), Omdurman (the largest city in Sudan), and Khartoum North (also known as Bahri, a large industrial center). Despite this, Tuti is home to only one small village (founded in the late 15th century), with grassland being the main makeup of the island. In the past the only access to Tuti Island was via several ferries that frequently cross the river, but now the Tuti Bridge, a modern suspension bridge, has been completed and is used instead. Pristine Tuti Island lies at the heart of Khartoum's most famous beauty spot where Mahas tribesmen have lived for centuries, isolated from the cacophony of Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri, only a short boat ride away.
Tuti Island is mainly agricultural and where Khartoum gets most of its supply of fruits and vegetables and therefore, you can find many farms situated all around the island, many of them still using manual methods of farming. You will find acres of green fields and lime groves. Its eight square kilometres (three square miles) of fertile land are covered in citrus orchards, vegetable farms, gorse hedgerows and narrow muddy lanes where donkeys and rickshaws are the main source of transport. The building of the Tuti Bridge has sparked development projects on Tuti Island, primarily by Tuti Island Investment Company, which plans to turn the Island into a state of the art tourist resort. However, fear among indigenous islanders has begun to emerge. These islanders fear that “The Paradise of Tuti, as they love to call it, will someday lose its features after the erection of the Bridge connecting the island to Bahry, the Blue Nile and Hatana, on the western bank of the rive Nile. Capital investors are trying to buy lands on the Island, hardly enough for accommodating its inhabitants. Sudan Vision reporters when round the island to get acquainted with history of this most beautiful spot from the horse mouth.
The building of the bridge has its pros and cons, said uncle Zaki, a resident of the Island. He said that some resident are benefiting from renting their houses, but others are selling their homes to leave for other areas, which lead to losing indigenous inhabitants of the Island as well as farming lands to expansion in construction, according to Mr. Zaki.
The island is annually hit by floods, most famously the floods of 1964 that caused huge damage to both inhabitants and farms. Those floods went down in history evident in songs symbolizing the bravery the sons of Tuti had demonstrated to protect their island from entirely drowning. “Preparations for the rainy season start with reopening of canals to counter any potential danger to the island by constructing embankments, said Muatasim Majoub Zaki. He added that Tuti has not been hit by any floods over the past years, except for the eastern bank which is affected concrete pavements that accompanied the construction of the bridge. “These concrete embankments negatively impacted the island because they prevent rain water from reaching the river,” Hafiz Mudawi, a resident. Mudawi called on the Ministry of Physical Planning for setting up a plan for the island so that waters flow during rainfall.
He said that the ministry has demanded some of the islanders leave the island for compensations in other areas in Khartoum so that the island is planned properly, but residents were opposed to the proposal that in turn impeded planning process. The construction of the island has brought about traffic congestions on the island, especially during the rainy season, he added.
As stated earlier, Tuti is famous for growing vegetables, fruits and animal fodder. However, farming has diminished over the past years due to encouraging on farming lands to turn them into residential areas as direct result of sky-rocketing land prices in Khartoum, lamented Ahmed Al-Amin, a farmer. The construction of the bridge has encouraged many investors to allure landlords to sell their lands for residential purposes. He called on the ministry to find alternatives for the inhabitants such as Soba and Sundus Projects as well as supplying them with their needs so that they maintain farming and supplying Khartoum markets with vegetables.
Tuti has been famous for red bricks used by the English colonizers to erect various sites along the Nile Avenue, mainly the Republican Palace. “Brick production starts immediately after rainy seasons and affected by the amount of clay left on the Nile Bank,” said Yousif Haj Omar, a brick kiln owner. Omar added the newly constructed road on the southern bank of the Blue Nile affects the annual amount of clay supplied by the river, adding there are calls from the state to abandon the trade arguing it cause pollution to the environment and distorts the look of the island despite the fact that these furnaces are located away from residential areas opposite winds direction, which refutes the allegations.
Omar said many families are reliant on brick-making trade to earn their living, and that have no other resources to rely on. He said hike in wood and animal waste prices resulted in increasing bricks prices and cost of transportation; in addition to shortage of labor who headed southward in the wake of South Sudan secession.
By Ibrahim Al-Jack –Najat Ahmed, 21/07/2012