South Sudan authorities plan to send a team of environmental experts to assess the scale of damage caused by pollution in oil-producing areas.
The environmental audit will begin in two weeks, Petroleum Minister Daniel Awow told reporters in the capital Juba during a press conference at the weekend.
He added that the team will inspect the extent to which oil spillage has destroyed lives and the environment, particularly in the Upper Nile oil-rich region.
“This exercise will be carried out by an international company to give us leeway to correct some of the damage that has occurred,” he said.
This came a few days after President Salva Kiir cautioned oil companies against “bad business”.
“I will not tolerate irresponsible activities in the oil sector,” the President said last week.
International and local lobby groups have criticised the South Sudanese government for failing to address pollution in the northern parts of the country.
The lobby groups have reported widespread environmental pollution in oil-producing areas, with animals and people mostly affected.
Reports indicate that the pollution has led to an increase in the number of deformed babies and stillbirths. This is mostly attributed to the dangerous heavy metals used in oil production which lobby groups suspect have leaked into water sources.
It is estimated that since the beginning of oil exploration in the 1990s, more than 500,000 people in South Sudan have been displaced in oil-producing states as a result of environmental pollution.